MARK BLOCK was next with the Pledge. Before he asked us to begin, he pointed out that in 1907, when HENRY was born, our flag had just 45 stars! And after the Pledge, MARK led us through The Four Way Test, which always bears repeating.
LENNY came forward, with Song Sheets yet. We sang America, and while we all know the 1st stanza, the sheet showed the 4th also, and it came out well.
We had no Visiting Rotarians, but LOTS of guests. SUNNY was of course with LENNY, and HENRY had three guests Annie, his daughter Linda Hsia, and Madame Wu. PAT was with PDG ANDY, and PEGGY was accompanied by her helper, Roberto. ELOISE SISKEL was with us, as was TONY MARRONE. ELLIOTT TURNER brought Carly Schwartz, and SALLY BRANT invited Chryn Stamatis. KATHIE was with ED GAULD, and DWIGHT HEIKKILA brought SOOK. And who else showed up but PP STEVE ADLER! The Head Table was occupied by some of the Speakers-to-be, PP JIM COLLINS, ANN SAMSON, PDG BILL GOODWYN and PP STEVE SCHERER, plus the Chair, LEO TSENG.
President GORDON had a couple of Announcements:
August 28th is the Fun Party at PEGGY BLOOMFIELDS - send your checks to MARGIE DOWNIE. DON and ROZ are in charge, and they welcome helpers, of course.
October 28th starts the visit of our Chinatown Rotarians PP RON LYSTER has details.
PP CHRIS GAYNOR and his wife, ROSE, will be putting together a new HOST-HOSTESS program, which some of you will fondly remember from the past.
The host couple invites three other couples, and we’ll have at least two dinners this coming year. This is a way to get to know each other better, and it’s really fun. Stay tuned, please.
PP ED GAULD was presented with the Anniversary Book, which highlights many events during the year just ended. RALPH BEASOM always does a great job in compiling this he even gets two copies of the Windmill for pasting and it provides a lovely record, which ED and KATHIE will certainly enjoy. Our Thanks to RALPH for his dedication to a job Well Done.
President GORDON then launched into a wonderful collection of events that transpired (that means they happened) in 1907, a day which is significant at WVRC.
Annette Kellerman, an Australian swimmer, was arrested for indecent exposure when she appeared in a skirtless one-piece bathing suit! For Shame! And that year, in NY, horse cars gave way to motor busses. Bullocks opened on March 4th in LA.
Woodrow Wilson, then President of Princeton, gave an address of July 4th suggesting that financiers, rather than corporations, were the financial culprits of the day, while President Theodore Roosevelt attacked malefactors of great wealth.
Financier J.P. Morgan averted a financial disaster that October. He accomplished his by locking up the leading NY Trust Company Presidents overnight in his library on E.36th Street until 5 am the next morning, once they agreed to cooperate.
Speculator Jessie Livermore shorted Union Pacific stock, invested his profits in Anaconda Copper, sold Anaconda short to make another killing, and is hailed as a Boy Plunger. And a final note the DOW Jones Industrial Average ended 1907 at 59, which was down from 94 at the end of 1906.
This brought up LEO TSENG, who reminded us that he and HENRY TSENG are first cousins their fathers were brothers! In preparation, LEO was in the store buying candles for today’s event. The salesgirl couldn’t quite figure out why he needed candles for three figures she asked if the number was 301! Since she continued to disbelieve LEO, he suggested she should come to WVRC next Thursday and see for herself. At this point, HENRY was invited over to his cake, to blow out the candles and you KNOW he got them all! We did sing Happy Birthday, of course. Applause, here.
Since they are cousins, LEO felt equipped to explain some of the family secrets that may or may not be known. Question how did an ethnic Chinese come to be born in Yokohama, Japan? To solve this problem, we have to go back to the Grandfathers. One story is that HENRY’s father got to Japan as a stowaway. He jumped ship in Yokohama, and became a very successful businessman there. That’s very interesting, but it’s not the truth. He was an official in the Imperial Court of the Ching Dynasty, and was sent over to Japan as a diplomat. Note that at that time there was no law in Imperial China about smoking opium, and he was an opium addict. He was protected in Japan by his diplomatic immunity. Thus he did become a very successful businessman while in Japan. One of his properties was the Fairmont Hotel this was the first hotel in Japan to offer four legged beds, as opposed to beds sitting on the floor.
As HENRY’S father grew up, he became what LEO described as a Holy Terror! His parents were told to ‘get rid of him’ so they sent him off to a private boarding school. Again, LEO isn’t sure if that is right, or if it was indeed a reform school… Laughter, here. In 1916, ten years after the SF Earthquake, there was a really huge quake in Japan over 9.0, apparently. All the family’s properties were reduced to ashes, and that’s when they decided to come back to China. They settled in Shanghai, and HENRY met a beautiful girl Annie. They have celebrated their 75th Anniversary! Applause, again. LEO noted that he did know some men who had celebrated their 75th but that was to five or six different women. Anyway, HENRY moved from Shanghai to Hong Kong, to start his business career. HK was a British Colony, and the sun never set on their empire. His first acquisition was the Distributorship for Zenith Radio which grew to seven such operations in HK. At this point, he became interested in water-skiing, of all things and the later video proves it. On the 50th Anniversary of his relationship with Zenith, Henry was invited to Chicago to be recognized as the oldest and longest distributorship in the entire company. And here, PP RON LYSTER was invited to take over the telling.
RON met HENRY when he joined WVRC in 1986. His locker is next to HENRY’S at the Westside YMCA. At the Y, in 1996, HENRY approached RON with the story of WALLY FISCHMAN’S problem with Parkinsons. HENRY had heard that exercise was helpful with Parkinsons, and he suggested to RON that Rotary become involved to help. This of course led to the present PLLUS Program in Rotary, and RON noted that at the Rotary Website, there is an article still about HENRY and his involvement with Parkinsons, entitled, “Centenarian stays active with Parkinsons”. At a 70th Anniversary party in 2004, HENRY was a real dancer and this led to lessons for some of the members, who didn’t want to let HENRY do more than they could. He has inspired lots of people if HE can do it, WE can too! RON concluded with a toast to HENRY, which ended, “Thank God for our friend HENRY TSENG”, to which we all responded, Hear Hear!
ANN SAMSON was up next. She has known HENRY and his family over the 15 years she has been in LA, and “she has never known an individual who brings so much sunshine into people’s lives every day”. They got to see HENRY at the Y every morning, from 0630 to 0730 and of course ANN didn’t know how old HENRY was when she first met him. The YMCA hosted a 100th Birthday Party, and as ANN related, the comments of those who spoke made her realize that she really was seeing a legend. His generosity and inspiration to so many people are wonderful to witness. When asked how he stays so young, he says “I don’t worry”.
There are now over 100 PLLUS Programs going all over the country, thanks to HENRY! Thank you, HENRY.
PP JIM COLLINS began by asking if HENRY were worried about what JIM might say!
JIM reminded us that HENRY was President of the Rotary Club of Hong Kong in 1972 and in Asia, Rotary is really a very big deal. The family moved here, and in 1976 HENRY joined WVRC. JIM takes a weight lifting class at the same 0630-0730 time as the exercise class, and when he’s done, he always looks through the nearby window to see if HENRY is there. HENRY is into Tai Chi and if that’s what it takes to get to be 100, JIM wants to join that club.
Lo and behold, one day, JIM looks through the window and HENRY wasn’t there. Same thing the next day, and JIM rushes down to find out what has happened. And you guessed it he was just on vacation that week! JIM wants to make sure that everybody knows he is planning on seeing HNERY on his 105th and 110th birthdays.
PP STEVE SCHERER started by wishing HENRY Happy Birthday. But speaking of not worrying, STEVE has been watching Annie, and he thinks SHE does all the worrying. STEVE remembers a meeting maybe twenty years ago of the International Service Committee, which was held at his home. We were planning a trip to Mexico. After the meeting, as everyone was standing around HOWARD SISKEL and ELOISE, JOHN SINGLETON and some others, HENRY asked, “STEVE, can you do this?” and he bent over and touched the floor with the tips of his fingers. STEVE accepted the challenge, and followed suit. Then HENRY said, “Well, STEVE, can you do THIS?” and he bent over and placed his hands flat on the floor. Laughter, here. At this point, STEVE asked everyone who is 83 years old to stand up JIM COLLINS and I struggled to our feet, and then STEVE asked anyone over 83 to stand up, and there was DON PARK! Next he asked anyone younger than that to stand up, so everybody could. Next, of course, he asked us all to touch the floor…There were lots of comments, but we were pleased to be offered the chance to sit down again. STEVE didn’t think he saw anyone with their palms on the floor and I’m sure he didn’t. HENRY now demonstrated that he could still touch the floor. So HENRY does things other people can’t do. STEVE believes that people admire HENRY so much because he lives his life according to the Wisdom of the Ages here is that Benediction:
One life to live, will soon be past but only what we do for others will last.
PDG BILL GOODWYN came next, reminding all that once he was greeted by “this skinny little rear end” when he arrived at the Bel Air Hotel the person attached was bending over at the waist, with his palms flat on the floor! And sure enough, it was none other than HENRY, knees locked, then popping up and greeting BILL with a big smile. That was about 13 years ago, when he was 90. JUDI and BILL have knows HENRY and ANNIE for 34 years, and don’t know a sweeter or more lovely couple than the two of them. We were reminded that Rotary in Asia is a very big deal indeed, and to be selected by your peers and fellow executives to lead them is a signal honor which HENRY well deserved. BILL and JUDI have been invited to their Anniversaries for the past 30 years, and at each event you could actually feel the love and respect for ANNIE and HENRY. It was a privilege just to see such a roomful of affection. BILL, who is 33 years younger than HENRY, is hoping he will share his secrets of such a long life with him sometime in the next five or ten years.
LEO came forward to introduce a video which fills the gap from zero to age 70, when we first met HENRY. It was a lovely summation to a really lovely birthday celebration. Our thanks to all who contributed to the memories.