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On The Scene - Milestone and Memories

ON THE SCENE  by Gerrye Wong
MILESTONES AND MEMORIES     DingDing.TV       July 1, 2016

Garrett Wong celebrates Arizona State University graduation day with grandmother Violet Yoshimura, parents DeeDee and Mike Wong, brother Braden.

Readers who have known me during my 25 year career writing the “On the Scene: column chronicling events and happenings in the community know that I am a very sentimental person, so this column will be devoted to people and families whom I have had  the pleasure of knowing and enjoying  life’s pleasures with in my lifetime. 

Surrounded by family,  Garrett Wong is feted at lunch on graduation day.

There is a well known saying that “Family comes first” so I am taking it literally by commemorating three milestones in the Wong family memory file for 2016.   In May, grandson Garrett made his parents Dr. Mike and DeeDee Wong very proud when at his graduation, he was named Outstanding Graduate of 2016 class at the Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability, a title voted upon and bestowed by the faculty members.  The graduation was held at the Chase Field Stadium in downtown Phoenix,  which was enclosed to escape the 100 degree weather.  The high point, however, was when at the conclusion, the moveable roof opened slowly to allow the fireworks outside to be seen by the thousands of graduation spectators.  Garrett was surrounded by family members who had flown in from Honolulu, Silicon Valley and Southern California who beamed with pride when a video was shown of his accomplishments on the big screens as he shook hands with ASU President Dr. Michael Crow. His latest coup is being called by his Sustainability School Dean to join the Sustainability Committee for the 2017 Final Four hosted in Phoenix as ASU representative to help plan events and programs for the NCAA tournament’s last games while creating policies relating to sustainability initiatives for the NCAA  to adopt after the tourney. 

Todd Matsuura is congratulated by family following his Santa Clara University graduation in June.
Second Wong family graduation came in June when grandson Todd, son of Kelly and Gary Matsuura made us beaming proud grandparents again at his Santa Clara University ceremony.  Under blistering heat at the Buck Shaw outdoor stadium, he joined some 5000 other happy graduates and grateful parents.   Comically, his fellow accounting graduates from the School of Business wore green visors when getting their diplomas on stage, while the engineering students wore hard hats.  Brother Justin flew up from Fullerton for the day. Family friends Robert Masuda, Shaunei Ordenstein and Violet Yoshimura flew in from Hawaii,  and sister Melissa was home from University of Pacific in Stockton to cheer on brother Todd and his 8 roommates (yes, 9 in one house!)  who came from all parts of the country to enjoy college life together. Their proud parents were hosted the following day to a celebratory luncheon prepared and cooked by their graduate sons, who were Derek Tsukahira, Jeff Garavaglia, Andrew Badroos, Holden Tikkanen, Mat Kubit, Andrew Knauer, Nick Parker, Trevor Baker, Scott Huston and of course, my grandson Todd Matsuura.   Todd will continue his studies towards his CPA degree while working in San Jose for PricewaterhouseCoopers as an Assurance Associate.    Do you blame me for hailing these wonderful grandsons and congratulating them here in print?  

Calvin and Gerrye Wong celebrate 60th anniversary at Yosemite’s Grand Majestic Hotel.

Third highlight for our family was Calvin and me celebrating our 60th wedding anniversary surrounded by family at the old Awahnee Hotel, newly named the Grand Majestic at Yosemite. I could say President Obama flew in that night  for the occasion, but only the first part is true.  We watched him helicopter into the adjoining meadow and motorcade to his cottage at the hotel while we were dining in the majestic banquet room, but somehow he neglected to join and celebrate with us that night!  Asked kiddingly by the grandkids if we could still remember any highlights of the past 60 years, I could answer easily it was the annual vacations we spent taking first our own kids Mike and Kelly as they were growing up, and then ultimately with the grandkids from toddler to college age all around the United States, and even to China to show them their roots in the Wong Taisan village.  Are there any of you readers out there celebrating life’s milestones?  Please share with me and our readers your happy moments too. 

Baby Jasmine Cheng welcomes guests with grandparents Doris Grover, Albert and Anne Cheng at Red Egg Party.

Community leader Doris Grover greets guests at her Hilton Financial Center Hotel reception for granddaughter Jasmine.

Another milestone for any family is the first grandchild so you could not find happier faces than that of Doris Grover, Al and Anne Cheng at the red egg party of two months old Jasmine, daughter of Jason and Jacqueline Cheng.  Over 200 friends and family were on hand to celebrate Baby Jasmine’s very welcomed arrival at the Portsmouth Square Financial Center Hilton Hotel luncheon.  Both grandparents Al Cheng and Doris Grover are active community leaders in San Francisco’s Chinatown so their happiness was spread to many of their non-profit community friends.

Happy grandparents Jin and Carol Jue, along with parents Joy and Joey Cramer show off Baby RJ at his one year old picnic.

Down in Foster City, another great occasion to celebrate is the one year old birthday of first born son, Richard Jin, to Joy Jue and Joey Cramer.  On a sunny California day 100 family friends were treated to an Hawaiian themed picnic at Boothbay Park, hosted by grandparents Jin and Carol Jue.  Guests seeing the very active, happy one year old tiger known as RJ were grand aunties Rose Tang, Joanne Shen and Katie Tang. Also enjoying Hawaiian food a la California style were grandparents Richard and Yvonne Cramer, Mike and May Woo, Waymond and Yvonne Wong, Darlene mar, Victor Jue, Joyce Chan and the Alvin Joes. 

Lovely Ivy Tam performed  for many charity events during her long dancing career in San Francisco before recent passing.

We will miss a shining light in San ‘s Chinatown Entertainment World as petite Ivy Tam passed away recently. Married to Charlie Low, owner of the famed Forbidden City nightclub where she once danced in the 1960s , Ivy in recent years had returned to performing on stage with the Grant Avenue Follies as their solo fan dancer at many  charitable events. Throughout her life, she was sophisticated in her fashion statement and graced many runways for charitable fashion shows, always willing to give of her time and talent to help others.  Everyone said she was like an angel floating on stage bedecked in her white feather costume. I will think of Ivy as an angel watching over her many fans and dancing to her trademark “It’s a Wonderful World.”   As Grant Avenue Follies leader Cynthia Yee expressed, it was hard for the Grant Ave. Follies to perform a first time without Ivy, but on June 3, the troupe dazzled the audience at the Legends show at the Las Vegas Burlesque Hall of Fame’s  850 seat Orleans Room.  Ivy’s Celebration of life party, held at the San Mateo Senior Citizen Hall, was an afternoon of memories and music and dance performed by her Follies and entertainer friends, just what she loved throughout her lifetime.

Grant Avenue Follies dancer dedicated recent Las Vegas performance to their  former fellow performer, Ivy Tam.

San Josean Vera Fong, wife of late husband, Theodore Fong, always had a smile on her face, according to her children Marsha and Craig Fong.  Coming from a large family growing up in Fresno, CA, Vera with sisters quit school to open a hair salon to be able to send her four younger brothers to college.  Many spoke of her caring ways at her Cupertino celebration of life ceremony, followed by the traditional Chinese funeral  banquet at Hong Fu Restaurant.  Many of her Chinese American Citizens League and Chinese American Womens Club members were among the 200 friends remembering their good friend, Vera Fong that day.

Color 5K Fun Run participants pose happily following their colorful race for charity.

A happy occasion where all of the 1000 participants had smiles of joy and accomplishment, was at the COLOR 5K, a charity run presented by the Rotary Club of San Mateo Sunrise last month.  For those not in the know, like me, a color run is a fun family event where  onlookers throw harmless non-allergenic powders of all colors at the runners as they passed by.  This inaugural Color 5K Run, held at the College of San Mateo, was the club’s principal fundraiser to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) as well as the club’s charitable foundation. As President Michael Wong said, “Type 1 Diabetes is a life-threatening autoimmune disease that strikes both children and adults with no prevention or cure at present. This was a fun way for families to run together for a good cause.” Watching from the sidelines, I could see happy faces of all ages running with joy, knowing it was all for a good cause. There was much cheering and laughing  as they were pummeled with colored powder when they rounded the finish line under a giant rainbow arch.  Congratulations to Rotary Club of San Mateo Sunrise and all the sponsors, vendors and participants joining together to support this run for a brighter tomorrow! 
SUMMER WITH THE SYMPHONY is always a looked-forward to series that San Franciscans and tourists alike of all ages look forward to.  The San Francisco Symphony brings together a variety of concerts certain to please any and all ages of music lovers.  Throughout July, one can enjoy concerts of the following:  The music of John Williams from Star Wars to Harry Potter, Beethovan’s 9th Symphony, Star Trek:  The Ultimate Voyage, Ratatouille film with live SFS, An Evening in Paris, A Russian Celebration, Gershwin & Bernstein, Final Symphony music from Final Fantasy VI, VII, and X, and Pink Martini. Besides that busy schedule, on July 24, the SFS will perform a free outdoor concert on the grassy plaza in front of the James Herman Cruise Terminal at Pier 27, located on the Embarcadero at the foot of Lombard Street.  Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 will be played by  pianist Makoto Ozone who in early 1980s became the first Japanese musician to sign an exclusive contract with CBS.   Information:.
Who wants to join me at th latest offering of MURDER AT THE DRAGON’S DEN OF THE FORBIDDEN CITY NIGHTCLUB to be performed  JULY 16TH at the Utopia Café in 139 Waverly Alley in center of San Francisco’s Chinatown?    Only $25 per person and a free Chinatown walking tour is offered following the performance.  Sound like fun?   Who is game to go with me to be mystified by Chinatown lore ? Reservations:  415 793 1183 or call me 408 507 1042.
Rush to your computer and order tickets for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST now showing at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco if you have young people who enjoyed the movie years ago, and love the story.  This travel company has flashy scenes, wonderful voices singing the familiar songs, and animated actors on stage to depict their special characters like the candelabra, clock, teapot, and of course, the Beast and Belle, the beauty lead. Opening night performance drew standing ovations and enthusiastic response from the families and their kids in the filled up audience.    Ah youth!!
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