As communism spread like wildfire across the vast land of China, my great grandfather made a decision. As soon as his father passed away he would pack up his family and take them to America. It was hard for his first son, George, to leave Chung Sar, a small village he had been raised in outside of Hong Kong. Things were going to be different from then on and George was excited. This is the story of my grandfather, George Sid, coming to America.
George was fourteen when his dad moved his family to America. Remembering the plane to say “Pan Am Airlines” the family flew into San Francisco from Hong Kong in 1951. “We stay over in San Francisco maybe a couple days, [it was] cold, very cold, shivering cold, I remember that.” After that he and his family took a train from Oakland to New Orleans to start their new life in America. From New Orleans they went to Vicksburg Mississippi.
After two years they opened a grocery store and after the third year his parents and uncle took a vacation to San Francisco. They left he and his brother Henry behind to run the store by themselves. “I ran the store all by myself, two teenagers. It was of course in the summertime and at that time, summertime, what happened is I stay in the store and he go in the YMCA swimming and when he came back I go to swimming.”
While his parents were vacationing in San Francisco, they met up with a family they’d known from their village back in China. After catching up they arranged for George to meet up with the family’s daughter in Houston. They were destined for marriage because of their similar pasts and beliefs. George’s greatest struggle was language. He had to go to school not knowing any of the language. “Trying to learn the language – not knowing the language so had to be, try to learn everything from basic.” In high school “Henry got in fights. Those people hated him and so he fight with him…When you fight with someone don’t back down, don’t back down.”
In 1960, George’s father wanted to move out to San Francisco to make a living. “Little by little we came out here!” They lived on Jackson St. in San Francisco. As soon as he was old enough he was drafted into the army. He went to basic training in Monterey and then to Fort Ord, Texas. He was stationed there for almost two years waiting to be deployed. But then the Korean war ended. George felt relief that he didn’t have to go fight.
Soon after he was reunited with Katy in February 1961, George proposed to the most beautiful and intelligent woman he knew. Three months later they were married in the First Presbyterian Church in Chinatown in San Francisco. He didn’t become a citizen until after he moved to San Francisco.
In 1972 he started working at a telephone company named Pac Bell and was told by his supervisor that he needed to become a citizen. He applied for citizenship and became a citizen. At Pac Bell he fixed ventilation and refrigeration. Katy, his wife, was working at Kaiser Permanente as a nurse.They raised their two sons in Daly City. Both sons attended St. Ignatius Preparatory for all of their early education. Now George has three granddaughters and one grandson. He lives happily in Menlo Park with his wife and youngest son and their two little girls, Anjali (7) and Sarina (5).
This story of George Sid was written by his granddaughter, Zoe Sid, a student at Palo Alto High School.