Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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Bewildered

By Louis H. Chu

Introduction

AIISF is proud to reprint Louis H. Chu’s short story, Bewildered, which was published in EASTWIND: Politics and Culture of Asians in the U.S, Spring/Summer 1982. It is a rare account of the detention and interrogation process at the Sansome Street facility, where Chinese and other immigrants were processed after the Angel Island Immigration Station closed in August 1940.

Chinese American novelist Louis Chu (1915-1970) left behind a rich legacy for future generations of Asian American writers.  In his novel Eat a Bowl of Tea, published in 1961, Chu portrayed the conflict between a father and son in New York Chinatown with great insight and feeling.  Recreating in English the rich textures of his native Sze Yup dialect, Chu captured the vitality of Chinese people and made his characters come to life as real, three dimensional human beings.

Chu’s sensitive handling of characters and situations can be seen in this earlier work, “Bewildered,” which is being published for the first time.  “Bewildered” conveys an experience common to many Chinese immigrants – the anxiety that builds while waiting for reunification with one’s family.

We would like to express our gratitude to Mrs. Kang Louie and May Joan Louie for allowing AIISF to share “Bewildered” with you.

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Historic Pen Donated to California State Parks for the Immigration Station

The pen used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to sign the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act was donated to the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation and the California State Parks by Miriam Wydra Mendell in 1996.  Her sons, Jeffrey and Mark wanted our readers to know that this historic pen will be exhibited at the Detention Barracks and provided the following background story.

As a 16 year old teenager in Germany in 1929, Miriam Wydra was sent alone by her parents to the U.S. because conditions for Jews in pre-Nazi Germany were already becoming difficult.  Miriam was detained for a long time on Ellis Island by the U.S. immigration authorities and was almost sent back to Germany, because the authorities did not believe that she was entering only temporarily to be a student.  Finally allowed to enter the U.S., Miriam lived with an aunt, learned English while she finished high school, and then went to work for the U.S. Congress as an interpreter.

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