"Sweet & Sour" and the Chinese LaundryDVD - 2015
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Jung on "Sam Lee"
One of the most prevalent names for Chinese laundries has been “Sam Lee Laundry.” On a personal note, I grew up in one in Macon, Georgia, and I was surprised to later discover similarly named Chinese laundries all across North America. “Sam Lee” was not usually the name of the proprietor of such laundries, even though in U. S. Census records you can find a few “Sam Lees” listed as the operator of a Chinese laundry. Actually “Sam Lee” is the transliteration of the Chinese for “triple profits,” an example of wishful thinking on the part of the laundryman who chose such a name. But many customers, as well as some census enumerators, just assumed that the owner’s name was indeed, “Sam Lee.”
Note: “Sam Lee” is not a person’s name but a concept that translates to mean “three (triple) profits,”
Note: In Cantonese, Sam Lee pronounced as 三利 or could it also meant 生利, both wished for growing dividend; and why triple and not ten thousand profit at in 萬利?
Man: They worked 18 hour days and no time to improve their English. ... But no Chinese laundryman would have used the phrase, “No tickee, no washee,” or its other forms, “No tickee, no laundee”, or “No tickee, no shirtee” to make this point. The phrase is just one example of the way whites often fabricated pidgin English terms to make fun of the difficulty Chinese had in pronouncing English.
Valarie Mah on Chinese laundry in Toronto:
Books by John Jung including Sweet and Sour:
The Milwaukee Toy's restaurant built in 1913:
China Camp with Frank Quan:
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