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Eddie Low, aka Woo Moon Sern, 胡滿常 (1906–1974) was the youngest of 8 children. He immigrated from 泥涌村 南海 九江(Jiujiangzhen, Nanhai, Foshan, Guangdong), disembarked at the Angel Island Immigration Station from the Taiyo Maru on June 25, 1921. During this period the Chinese Exclusion Act restricted Chinese from immigrating to the United States. In order to circumvent the Act, he entered the United States as a paper son, Low Bong. After 143 days of confinement at the Angel Island Immigration Station, on November 14, 1921, he finally arrived in San Francisco.
He went to live and work with his brother, Woo Hin Sern 胡顕常. His brother was the owner and operator of Wo Lung, a butcher shop, at Grant and Pacific Avenue. While working at the butcher shop, he attended Commerce High. During this time, another older brother Woo Yee Sern 胡雨常 and Woo Foon his eldest sister, guided him as he matured and prospered in San Francisco.
In the early 1930’s, Ford Motor Company had plans to assemble automobiles in China. Eddie had participated in the Ford Motor Company training program in Detroit. But, Eddie did not complete the program. Ford Motor Company’s plans to build a plant did not come to fruition. Meanwhile, Eddie’s family needed him back in San Francisco to work in the butcher shop. Eddie worked with another older brother Woo Yee Sern. 胡雨常 at Akron Meat Market, 3314 20th Street. When his older brother left the business and moved to Fresno, Eddie became the owner.
While working as a butcher, Eddie was match-mated with a local Cantonese girl, Edna Lo, 盧金好. Edna’s American name given to her by a nun at the St. Mary’s Chinese Mission, 902 Stockton Street. On September 14, 1935 Eddie Low married Edna Lo at Old St. Mary’s Church, 660 California Street.
The Selective Service and Training Act, enacted on September 16, 1940. On October 16, 1940 Eddie Low registered.
Eddie was deferred from active duty during World War II. He operated Akron and was able to be with his family. While he attended to the market, his young son played on the sidewalk in front of the market. Edna prepared daily meals for the employees at Akron.
After the war, Eddie commuted to Oakland to work as a butcher. Eddie commuted to Oakland using the Key System. The Key System operated trains which crossed the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge.
Later, he worked for his nephew at the Daily Meat Market in the Western Addition at 1522 Fillmore St. in San Francisco. Eddie butchered meat and served the patrons. He also delivered meat for Daily Meat Market. This is where he earned the nickname: “speedy Eddie” because he was a slow and careful truck operator.
His two sons and two daughters attended school at St Mary’s Chinese Mission Raymond, Stephen, Patricia and Kathleen. The mission was closely affiliated with Old St. Mary’s. In the 50’s, his children used the Woo family name (胡) in Chinese School. During that time, Senator Joe McCarthy was combating communism. After World War II, China became a communist country. Using the Chinese Exclusion Act, the government may have believed that many Chinese in the states were communist. Eddie’s children quickly changed the Woo Chinese name (胡) to the Low Chinese surname (劉) to conform to the Low last name. This was to avoid the red flag for which the immigration authority might use to reinvestigate Eddie Low.
|Registrant deferred because of dependents and employment in an occupation essential to the war effort.|
As Eddie’s children became older, he wanted to introduce Chinese Art to his children. He created a miniature mountain, the term used at that time was 石山. To create his 石山, he used volcanic lava rock to carve out a miniature mountain where he planted small live plants (bonsai). At the base of the mountain was a moat where he had live gold fishes swimming around his 石山. He embellished the mountain with a porcelain fisherman and porcelain buildings.
One week before the Chinese New Year’s Celebration, Eddie would set up a street stand on the sidewalk at Washington Street and Grant Avenue to sell his bonsai plants and azalea potted plants. This was a Chinese custom to use the plants to decorate ones home during the Chinese New Year.
During this time, many parents wanted their children to become medical doctors. Eddie encouraged his children to become doctors. He passed away before realizing his dreams. One daughter retired as a nurse, and another retired as an optometrist. One granddaughter is in the school of optometry, and another granddaughter has a doctorate degree working in the field of medical research.
Steve Low grew up in San Francisco Chinatown in the 40’s and 50’s. His father was a documented “Paper Son” and in 1956, his mother informed him that his father could have been deported. Steve graduated from St. Mary’s Chinese Mission and St. Ignatius High School and graduated from San Jose State with a degree in chemistry. After 36 years of service, he retired as an inspector for San Francisco Environmental Health. In the final 22 years, he worked in the field of hazardous material and waste environment. Raymond Low, Patricia Low, and Kathleen Low contributed to this Immigrant Voice story.
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