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My father, Raymond Low, was born in Toisan, China in January 12, 1923. His father left for the U.S. before he was born. In 1938, he came to the U.S. and was kept on Angel Island for a month because he had gotten sick during the difficult trip. The authorities thought he had a serious illness. During World War II, he was drafted into the army and did basic training in Texas. The bathrooms were segregated and he wasn’t sure if he should be using the colored or white facilities until his sergeant said he could use the white one. He landed in France 30 days after D-Day and fortunately did not see action. However, the trip to Europe took 15 days instead of 5 days because they had to avoid German U boats.
After the war, he went back to school on the GI bill to get his high school diploma. He then went back to China, married Yvonne Law and returned to Sacramento, CA in 1948. The early years were difficult but they were able to buy a home and raise 4 children. At one time, all four children were in college but dad worked two jobs, Continental Can Company during the week and Frank Fat’s Restaurant on weekends. Continental Can relocated him in 1968 to San Jose, CA. Moms also work at local canneries on the assembly line.
It wasn’t until a few years ago, that Dad told his children about his experience on Angel Island. It was during a speaking engagement by the Angel Island ranger sponsored by the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project (CCHP). I am a past president of CHCP but did not realize that Dad was resentful of the treatment at Angel Island and did not want to talk about it until then.
One of his grandchildren is Evan Low, my son, who at 23 years of age is the youngest city council person in California (Campbell).
On April 7, 2009, Ray passed away after suffering a heart attack. It was quick. He had eaten dinner, went upstairs, and half an hour later, told his wife he was not feeling well, collapsed and that was it. Two weeks before he passed away, I asked him how he was feeling and he said that he is not in any pain and happy with his long life. Then, on December 1, Evan was sworn in as the first Asian American Mayor of Campbell, CA. I am sure that he would have been proud.
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