Samba

The folks at the church were very kind and accepting of us.  We were grateful for everything people did to help us become Americans.  Apparently they also liked and valued the work Dad was doing among them.  By Thanksgiving, 1955, the Church Council voted to change Daniel’s status from interim minister to permanent, full-time called Pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church.  This was a first at the time, a Chinese serving as the sole pastor of a predominantly Anglican congregation in America.  Instead of missionaries going overseas to serve the Chinese, Dad considered himself a ‘missionary in reverse,’ a person from China serving Christians in America.

For pastimes, Canasta was a favored card game in those days.  Some parishioners taught it to Mom and Dad, and in turn, they taught the game to us.

After Thanksgiving, Dad and Mom with Danny and Betty took a trip to New York City to visit Mom’s oldest sister whom they had not seen for about ten years.  Dr. Shu Yang Liu was practicing Ob-Gyn in New York’s Chinatown.  She was trained in medicine in China and came to America in 1946 to continue her studies.  She completed the specialty training in Ob-Gyn as the first woman ever to achieve this honor from Penn Med, the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania.  Mom and Dad planned to be gone one week, leaving after Sunday service and returning Saturday afternoon.  William and I stayed home to attend school and to work our paper routes.  Home alone at 12 years old!  We were to take care of breakfast ourselves and to eat lunch at school.  Arrangements were made for various church members to come by the house and take us to dinner.

I remember one couple taking us to a diner like Big Boy.  I saw on the menu ‘hamburger’ and that was my order.  The host suggested adding a ‘milk shake’ so I consented.  My expectation was that the ‘hamburger’ would be made of ‘ham’ and the ‘milk shake’ would be aerated or fizzy with flavored milk.  I was surprised, but I did enjoy the newly discovered food combination.

At home, after delivery of the papers and doing our home work, William and I played cards.  (TV was becoming more available, but we did not have one.)  At first we played Canasta as we were taught.  Soon, it became too simple and boring to us.  So William and I decided in addition to just pairs and triplets, we’d add runs, starting with at least three and add on as we could.  Then, two decks of cards became insufficient so we played with three decks.  When Mom and Dad returned we taught them our modified game.  They related our game to their playing partners.  Not much later, we learned that a new modification to Canasta was becoming as popular as Canasta, called Samba.  William and I believed that we had invented ‘Samba’ because we were bored.  The new national game called Samba surely bore a strong resemblance to the game we invented!