Chicago Tribune -- January 20, 1890Gleeful Celestials Chicago Chinamen Celebrate Their New-Year's Festival
The Chinese New-Year celebration began last night about dusk. At 3 A.M. it had reached the stage of joyous riot, when a Chinaman begins to have fun. Clark Street south of Van Buren was crowded with happy Chinamen, and more happy Chinamen were bobbing in front of the pictures of the Joss in the Hip Lung store, Bow Wow Fung's, Sam Moy's, and other pleasant resorts, where Chicago Chinamen gather to smoke and have a good time. All the shops were lit, red paper signs hung in the windows, friendly parties of Chinamen were tossing off cups of rice gin, while up-stairs, over the Hip Lung store, a Chinese orchestra was playing for the pleasure of twenty or thirty privileged Chinamen, and a policeman from the Harrison Street station.
Ex-Lieut. Bowler Honored
Yesterday morning was spent in preparing for the big Jollification. In the back rooms of the stores paintings of the Joss were hung over little tables on which lay the sticks of incense to be burned later in his honor. The Chicago artist's 2idea of the Chinese Joss resembled ex-Lieut. James Bowler of the Desplaines Street Station. It represents the Joss as a tall man with a fierce eye, a pale-cold face and a dark mustache and goatee. The walls of the shops were papered with pictures of scenes in Chinaland and pictures of the Emperor. Cigar-dealer Sam Moy's portrait of the Emperor made the big man look like a native of County Mayo. "Who painted that picture for you Sam, my lad?" asked Sergt. Dan Hogan of the cigar-dealer. "Mike Casey, down here on Clark Street," replied Sam Moy with a grin. "I thought so," remarked Sergt. Hogan. "By my troth, the Emperor must have been too busy to give him a sitting and sent a proxy from Archer Road!"
Money in Sam's Purse
Sam Moy was not offended at this criticism of his decorations. It was a pretty hardthing to offend Sam Moy, or any other Chinese merchant, yesterday. When Sam Moy arose yesterday morning his shop was crowded with customers and the customers all had their pocketbooks out. They had come to settle up their accounts with Sam Moy. On New-Year's every Chinaman must pay his "chit"; if he doesn't do it before 4 P.M. he is disgraced. His friends do not speak to him on the street. Chinese boys peg bricks at him. Chinese women hoot at him from the windows. When 3he dies he goes to a place where he will meet Americans and others. So there was a constant stream of Chinamen entering Sam Moy's all day yesterday, and Sam Moy's face wore a smile of supreme content. When a customer entered he bowed to Sam Moy and said, "Kunghi." Sam Moy bowed to the customer and replied, "Kunghi," which means: "I am your everlasing servant. I humbly bow myself at your feet. I offer you my sincerest wishes for a happy year. May the moon love you. May your head mingle with the stars. May peace and prosperity be yours." The customer paid his bill and Sam Moy handed him a cup of gin and a five-cent cigar. Another customer came in a little while later. The same salutations were exchanged, and he, too, sat down to a cup of gin and a cigar. By nightfall the place was overcrowded. In the little stalls back of the shop half a dozen Chinamen were "hitting the pipe," and in a back room fifteen or twenty were gambling. A feast was set for 6 P.M. This was the menu as at other places: Bird's Nest Soup, Shark's Fin Soup, Fried Flat Fish, Roast Chicken, Roast Pig, Roast Duck, Roast Pigeon, Rice Gin, "Medicine" Wine, Oranges. At 10 P.M. the diners were getting warmed up to the festivities. Rice Gin had been poured in till the little Chinaman who sat next to Sam Moy carried a load that was picturesque and beautiful to behold. The conversation took the form of dialogues. One of the Chinamen yelled across the table to another Chinaman, "Happy New Year." "Happy New Year," replied the other Chinaman. "Good luck 4and prosperity to you." "Peace and happiness to you." "May you eat the skin of the roasted pig." "May wealth attend your ventures." "May your windows be unbroken." "May your fines be suspended." Whenever one of the Chinamen expressed a particularly noble sentiment all the other Chinamen applauded by hammering their dishes with the cups and bowling up some more. Like many other nationalities at midnight nearly every Chinaman in Chicago was a large and ornate drunk, and the New-Year's celebration was humming.
The incense sticks were burned before the pictures of ex-Lieut. Bowler, the orchestras were tuning up and the Chinamen were starting out on their calls. Each Chinaman carried two bundles of red sheets of rice paper. On each of the sheets of one bundle his name was written or engraved in Chinese characters. On each of the sheets of the other bundle a New Year's greeting was written. Every caller was treated to a bowl of gin and a cigar, the latter being carefully placed in his pocket. Before he left he handed to the host one of the red sheets. From midnight on to daylight all Chinatown was drunk and happy. The orchestre, consisting of a fiddle that plays only one note, a horn that plays another, and two drums that just make a noise, got to work about 3 P.M.5
The two Moy boys, who run the Hip Lung store, threw open the doors leading to the lodgings on the top floors and a great many Chinamen climbed up-stairs to pay their respects to Mrs. Quing Kee. Mrs Quing Kee is a stout German woman. She received their homage with complacency and sent Mr. Quing Kee across the street to fill the "growler." "I can't dring dot rice-chin," she said. "I lige beer better. Quing go ofer by Lawler's, unt get dree pints."
The Chinese New-Year celebration begins when the moon enters Aquarius and continues till the richest Chinamen in town thinks he has had enough. The merchants of Chicago will keep open house for ten days. The term of rejoicing grows less as the social scale is descended, and some laundrymen, who haven't much money, only keep it up for a day. The solid men of China celebrate sometimes for twenty days.
III B 3 a, V B
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