Chinatown and Mabel

Growing up in Chinatown is like no other community; practically everyone is a neighbor and by that I mean everyone, meaning most people are friendly and open. Living as a Chinatown resident in the same apartment complex for the 15 years of my life and counting, I can pretty much say Chinatown is part of me. Through the eyes of tourists, Chinatown may be an ideal hot-spot for a weekend of sightseeing and dining. Chinatown has greater history to me than just food and street vendors. Following are some places and people that shaped my life.

A place that carries a deep personal meaning for me is definitely the Chinatown Branch Publich Library. The Chinatown Library provided an opportunity for many children like me to enhance their vocabulary. I recall very well going to the library almost daily every summer in my elementary school years. One senior citizen and a regular library volunteer, known by many children as Grandpa Fred, guided me through countless numbers of reading sessions that I was, and still am, extremely thankful for.

I am afraid to cross paths with any acupuncturists. The thought alone of impaling many needles through my skin makes me pale. Although one might say it is not much different from a shot, but at least I know what nurses are injecting.

Aside from the typical dim sum and take out food in Chinatown,I believe a great place to eat is Spring Street Smokehouse. Maybe I've grown tired from the many years of eating Chinese food and is looking forward to try something new. Located at the border of Chinatown, the Smokehouse offers a great BBQ experience with reasonable pricing.

A place that has has history to me is the Chinese Confucius Temple of Los Angeles. I have been attending Chinese School since I was in the first grade. This year would be my last and tenth year attending this school before I graduate. Through Chinese School, I have entered in numerous writing competitions in and out of the school. This school, unlike other schools, has history to me because I grew with it.

The Los Angeles State Historic Park is where Students Run Los Angeles (SRLA) students from the city have our weekly Sunday Practices at 7:30 in the morning. Besides running, I occasionally take time to enjoy the marigolds or whatever happens to be growing in the grass along the track. Once during harvest season, there were baby pumpkins sprouting. I often refer this Park as "the cornfield" because it was once a fertile basin of corn, stretching for many acres.

I would like to see George's Liquor changed or perhaps relocated. The drunk people, usually the "residentially challenged" *quoted Matt :), doesn't help but claim their territory on a street corner or a bus bench nearby the store. Located on the corner of the every so busy Broadway, a liquor store deflects the cultural vibe of Chinatown.

A place I subconsciencly escape to is when I am engaged in Amy Tan's novels. Although most of the setting from the Joy Luck Club is in 20th century China, I relate to the characters of Chinese blood living on American soil.

The somewhat elderly men playing Chinese chess would be an ideal group that defines Chinatown. These men are often seen playing on the few benches in Alpine Park or in Central Plaza. They may be loud, angry, and harmful to the environment with the constant smoking, but each carries important Chinese heritage with them. I do not know these participants in chess personally, but I do know that most of them immigrated from China. These men gather daily at a designated area and demonstrate what they have known and brought it with them when they immigrated from another country. People are free to walk up to them and challenge them to a game, not that I have tried before. Just like the men playing chess, Chinatown welcomes people with open arms.

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