News By: Gerrye Wong
News Date: June 22, 2017
A SPLENDID SUMMER
By Gerrye Wong June 21, 2017
CELEBRATING A CENTENNIAL BIRTHDAY
A very special occasion for all her fans was celebrating the 100th birthday of popular super star tap dancer Dorothy Toy Fong recently. Held in the Asian Cultural Center in the heart of Oakland’s Chinatown, the gala celebration was made extra special when everyone entering was personally greeted by Dorothy herself and and had their pictures taken with her by professional photographer Frank Jang.
Seated with her precious dog Maxie, Dorothy was her gracious self always greeting everyone excitedly. Daughter Dorlie organized the gala occasion where Mark Wong and Alon Yu were Emcees for the program. Film maker Arthur Dong flew up from Los Angeles to honor Dorothy who had starred in his film “Forbidden City” which chronicled the entertainment scene in San Francisco’s Chinatown night clubs before and during World War II.
Although Dorothy has entertained people with her dancing throughout her life, the party was a time for her to sit back and enjoy as her friends entertained in her honor. Lorene Tom opened the show running on stage as a giant birthday cake and Doris Grover and Darlene Mar joined me in leading the crowd in a sing along dedicated to Dorothy that I had written. The fun group, GRANT AVENUE FOLLIES , led by Dorothy’s protege Cynthia Yee, tap danced to THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT.
Others who made the celebration very special with their participation were Rick Quan who recently directed a movie about Dorothy Toy Fong’s life, Hank Quock, Tommy Leong, and some of Dorothy’s former dance students when they were young little girls and now adults returning to honor Dorothy.
Rick Quan just notified me that his documentary “DANCING THROUGH LIFE: THE DOROTHY TOY STORY” is now available free of charge on Xfinity on Demand. Be sure to watch the exciting life Dorothy led being one of the first Asian American dancers to be on Broadway and in Hollywood movies. Congratulations Dorothy … Keep on dancing!!!
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HERE I COME
On a pleasant summer day where overcast skies gave the area its famous June Gloom cool weather, I went to visit THE HUNTINGTON with its extraordinary Library, Art collections, and Botanical Gardens. Covering 120 acres of the 207-acre grounds, the highlights of the dozen gardens include the Chinese Garden, the Desert Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, and the special Garden of Flowing Fragrance.
While there I saw people of all ages enjoying family times walking through the outdoor galleries and enjoying dining at the patio grill, as well as the tea rooms and noodle house in the beautiful Chinese garden overlooking a serene lake filled with lotus blooms. Henry Huntington in 1919 had the vision to establish this wonderful area for succeeding generation’s pleasure and education. Very worthwhile a visit next time you are near San Marino in Southern California.
Escondido is a couple of hours south and my next destination was to the LAWRENCE WELK RESORT to attend its unique theatre which has drawn fans from the local area as well as resort guests for many years. Producer Joshua Carr brought a lively production of THE MUSIC MAN for summer theater goers to enjoy and we found it a great toe tapping version of the old favorite. Especially fascinating was the talented eight year old Bobby Chiu who played the ever charming lisping Winthrop in this old Meredith Wilson favorite. Music Man will play through July, followed by Kiss of the Spider Woman on September 1. Tickets: firstname.lastname@example.org
A HISTORIC TOUR OF SAN DIEGO
The best way to see a city is through the popular tour busses that take you all around the city, whether it be on a double decker or small bus. When I arrived in San Diego I looked up the popular Old Town Trolley tours when I saw them scuttling around the city with full trolleys of happy passengers. Director of Travel Industry Sales Rod La Branche recommended the most popular City Trolley Tour which took me around the whole city for two hours stopping to let off or pick up people at its 10 stops.. The best feature of this tour is that one can get off and on all during the day to see the highlights of the city as the trolley travels its 25 mile route.
As often as I had been to San Diego before, I had never seen or learned through interesting narration the history about the following sights of the city: Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, Embarcadero, Seaport Village, Convention Center Marina, Downtown Hilton Plaza, Gas Lamp Quarter, San Diego Bayfront, Coronado Island, Balboa,Park, San Diego Zoo, and Little Italy. I recommend anyone to take this tour the first day of your visit to truly get the feel of the city and where you may want to see more of in the succeeding days of your vacation. Historic Tours of America has brought these high quality city tours to many U.S. cities. www.TrolleyTours.com.
The San Diego Chinese Golf Club continues to meet weekly, according to course schedulers John and Neta Howo. We had the pleasure of joining them at Mt. Woodson Golf Course while in San Diego. It was heartwarming to learn that some of the senior players have been lifelong friends since high school and college days, and continue to enjoy meeting for golf comradeship now.
Golf stalwarts in the group are Russ Chan, Herb and Deanna Hom, Kim Lee, Tom and Shude.
A new exhibit prompted a return visit to the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum this trip to see the new exhibit showing of local community leader Tom Hom’s art work. The 90 year old Tom Hom comes from an old time San Diego family active in the Chinese Community since the 1930s when the family ran a large produce company. While recovering from a bout of Tuberculosis as a child, Tom began his interest in sketching and throughout his busy life as a business man, San Diego Councilman, and California Legislator, he has continued his interest in painting. His work is exhibited in the SDCHM now so on your next trip to San Diego, be sure to include a stop to this small but interesting museum to learn more about the San Diego Chinese community’s past history.
Unseasonably hot weather descended on usually mild San Diego our last day there so to the Pier area we went to board the large HORNBLOWER sightseeing ship as recommended by San Diego Tourist Authority PR Coordinator Sarah Weinberg-Scalo. Lines of tourists from many states and countries joined the ship tour that takes you on a two hour cruise along the south and north parts of the harbor.
Here comfortably seated on the top deck we could see the U.S. Navy fleet and the Midway Aircraft Carrier, sail under the Coronado Bridge and past the Sea Lion Reserve. This was a nice way to see the high rise skyline of San Diego from a harbor-side perspective amidst cool breezes in California’s unseasonably hot entrance into summer.
A SAN FRANCISCO ADVENTURE
Theatre Rhinoceros had a month long run of PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT at the Eureka Theatre and the opening night audience was as enthusiastic with energetic applause as the entertainers on stage. The cast did a great job with quick prop and stage setting changes while keeping the crowd laughing throughout this lively musical. THE RHINO claims to be the longest running LBGT theatre anywhere and will be running the highly entertaining PRISCILLA to July 1. Kudos to the cast for putting on a great show with a small stage and getting the audience involved in the show’s crazy antics. www.TheRhino.org.
UPCOMING JAPANESE MUSICAL
Exciting news – A world premiere of an American Musical Manga, THE FOUR IMMIGRANTS is coming to Palo Alto July 12. It was a runaway hit of THEATREWORKS 2016 New Works Festival and is a thrilling story chronicling the adventures of four endearing Japanese immigrants in a world of prejudice in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. It will be shown at the Luci Stern Theatre in Palo Alto so get your tickets now. Special rates for seniors, educators, patrons 35 and under, and groups of 8 or more. Www.theatreworks.org.
A MING QUONG HOME REUNION
Thirty alumnae of the MING QUONG HOME who grew up together in the 1930-40s returned to San Jose to be honored at the 150th anniversary of the site which is now being renamed UPLIFT FAMILY SERVICES. Over 500 patrons welcomed them at the Fairmont Hotel gala luncheon celebration. Following the luncheon, the thirty former little girls who lived together in the Los Gatos home were given a private showing of the new museum, NUMU featuring their personal historic days growing up. A final last tour of their former home ended the day which was filled with nostalgia and loving tears of remembrance, according to Nona Wyman, who was once at 2 1/2 years old the youngest girl at the orphanage and this time, the eldest alumnae there at 85 years old. What a wonderful time to reunite and renew old friendships.