American Club Then and Now

Hong Kong’s American Club has always held a special place in the heart of my family—not only when my brothers and I were kids in the 1960s hanging out in the Chuckwagon at St George’s Building, or playing tennis on weekends in Taitam during the 1980s and ’90s.

Arguably, “I” might not exist were it not for the American Club. The story came to me via my 90-something auntie, who was born the same year as my late father Raymond Chao, and had her palm read by a fortune teller in Remembering Shanghai. Though my parents had both grown up in Shanghai, they didn’t meet until they moved to Hong Kong, along with hundreds of thousands of émigrés from China. My auntie relates how one of their first dates was at the American Club July 4th picnic at Big Wave Bay beach in 1955.

 

Dad is No. 19

 

In 1944, my father had placed third in the Mr Shanghai bodybuilding contest (at left above). While munching American burgers and hot dogs that Independence Day, he must have shown off his beach body to good effect, as he and my mother married less than a year later.

My parents hamming it up in the 1960s.

 

So it was a special treat to for my mother and me to have a book talk at the American Club’s country club in fall 2019, 65 years after my parents first met at that fateful southside picnic.

It was, as experience told me it would be, a wonderful event on all counts: beautifully organized and well-attended, with a Wellesley alumna group in attendance and old friends we hadn’t seen in 40 years! Another very special American Club event for the Chaos!