A collabration

A book or project, sometimes is hard to pinpoint the exact time or day of inception. Not this one.
This collaboration was born in the round of laughs, bitter and sweet, 6pm on December 11, 2014 in the Concierge Lounge at the in Philadelphia. Phew. Nine of us (cat has nine lives!) decided to band together to tell our stories. Horay, I just got 8 siblings. Being the only child isn’t too fun, for the most part. The title of the book is yet to be named.
Hmmmm… what would I tell?

image image image

Let’s see … I’ve got a few the:

  1. I’m the only Asian but could not claim the only one who speaks Chinese because one of my sisters speaks better Madarin than I do.
  2. I’m the shortest
  3. I’m the one with the least command of language that, I think we will be publish in
  4. I’m the only one who bound her feet -:)
  5. LOL

Oh man … I’ll try my best to fit in.

Jinan …where Dad grew up part 2

Continued from Part 1

According to this one ..

Zhang Yuan, also known as The Ten-Thousand Bamboo Garden due to large clusters of bamboo was built in the Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368). The first owner was Yin Shidan 殷士儋 (? – 1582) who was a Jiajing Jinshi (of 1547). He became 宰相 prime minister only to (明隆庆四年) resign from the post in 1570 due to corruption. He depart from the officialdom completely and moved to the garden, naming it 通乐园 – Tongle Yuan, Garden of Happy All Around. Some scholar believed he also named the garden as 通泺园 – Tongluo Yuan. 泺 is another name for the famed 趵突泉 Baotu Spring to its east and their water courses/routes are interconnected.

The garden felt to despair in the intervening years till Wang Ping 王苹 (1661 – 1720) who was Kangxi (四十五年) Jinshi (of 1706) came to the rescue. He was disenchanted by the literary trend and seek refuge in the garden, which he humbly named 二十四泉草堂 the Hat of the 24th Spring because 望水泉, one of the three springs in the garden is listed as the 24th Spring out of 72 springs in Jinan. He replanted bamboo and restored the garden to glory.

After he passed away, the literati were all decamped, the garden once full of songs and poetry again felt into eerie and despair. My Great Grandfather purchased it in 1912, a year after the abdication of the last emperor Puyi when he was the commander of the Fifth Military Region of the North Standing Army (later army inspector and governor of Shandong Province). Initially it was meant for his boss Yuan Shikai but unfortunately Yuan passed away soon in 1916. My Zengzu then decided to make it his own residence and spent the next 10 years to renovate and expand.

Zhang Yuan locates about 1 km west of Pearl Spring. It was middle of September, tourists have all but gone home. We found a parking spot easily along the fence. The entrance to Zhang Yuan is very spacious yet enclosed. A set of vertical couplet that read


adorn the door, alone with two playful lions.

Architecturally it combines both northern and southern courtyard style, sits on 1.2万平方米 or 3 acres (21亩?) of land. It had one flower garden, three springs, four pavilions and five bridges. It’s aesthetically pleasing on the eyes and senses. The 186 rooms and 13 courtyards (石榴院、杏花院、海棠院、木瓜院 ..?) are divided into three big sections that facing each other circularly.

known as the springs city because of its 72 famed natural artesian fountains. Three of the gushing springs, Wangshuiquan 望水泉, Baiyunquan 白云泉, and Donggaoquan 东高泉 are located in Zhang Yuan, also called Wanzhu Yuan, Ten Thousand Bamboo Garden. It is located in downtown, was built during the Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368). Zengzu purchased it in 1912 and spent the next decade renovating and enlarging to its present size. It has 186 rooms within 13 courtyards, divided into three sections, with four pavilions and five bridges, sits on 3 acres of land. Most the houses are one level but few are two stories high. Chinese see multiple generations under one roof as a sign of fortune and prosperity.


(“Number One Spring under the Heaven” gushed g Dynasty Emperor Qian Long
The famed 趵突泉公园 Baotuquan Park, Spurting Spring (sometimes also translates as Jet Spring) in the heart of the city is the premier artesian karst. It located east to Zhang’s and they were combined in 1999, to the present park.)

officially open to the public in 1984

Shandong cuisine (鲁菜) is one of the eight great traditions of Chinese cuisine. It can be

Shanda university … Zhou


Dad was born in Beijing, had intermittent stays in Tianjin but primarily grew up on the Zhang’s Garden 张园 (or the Ten Thousand Bamboo 万竹园) in JiNan.
On the second day in Jinan, Dabo and Auntie Jennie couldn’t wait to take me there, visiting their childhood home where abundant happy memories were housed.

more pix on FB, the stone sculptures
festoon doors

the office


Unlike the Xiao Pangu 小盘谷 tour where it was only me and the surroundings, I had knowledgeable tour guides who loved to recount their days on this estate. It was vivid and lively. Few times I just closed my eyes and trying to embedded myself into their lives and into another era.

The tour begin with the back of their mother, my grandma’s bedroom. It was covered with lush ivies. They competed with each other for the memories: where, what, when, why, who … It’s immensely enjoyable.

The little library was once a restaurant a decade ago. Dabo got to celebrate his 70th birthday there.


Could I finally connect with my Dad?

More pix on FB, a few doors and festoon doors

YES!! My video got selected!!

OMG: I made the first cut, one of the 24 selected out of 117 submissions at the First Mid-Atlantic Chinese Film Festival 首届美东华语电影节. I’m really thrilled because I felt my story must have strike a cord with them not my movie/documentary making skill. I do think my thick skin or bravery/courage merit something: putting myself out there – both my life journey and my first video – isn’t the most comfortable thing for me. BUT I did it. A small first step.

Hello, 大家好

我们的美东华语电影节正在制作全新网站,在上百部作品中精选了大家的作品放在首页,.. ..


参赛作品001 – 里氏5.8 – Magnitude 5.8
参赛作品008 生活在别处之我和堆堆
参赛作品022_别射天使_Max Li
参赛作品029_Here,Too (你也在这里)
参赛作品048_At Home
参赛作品071 Lost Dream
参赛作品072_Seven Days
参赛作品085爱,始终在线_Love, is always online
参赛作品088_平行 相交
參賽作品033- 怡的故事
參賽作品039_DANCING DREAM/舞夢


Internet tools leading documentary filmmaking into a golden age

By James DeRuvo, doddleNEWS

According to TribeccaFilm.com, digital tools like HDSLRs, Social media, computer editing, and Internet distribution and finance is fueling the documentary industry and ushering in a golden age of new stories, dramatic technique, and distribution timelines that would never have been considered just a decade ago.


“… documentary filmmakers are motivated to fill these gaps in our understanding, thankfully. This is the new journalism. – Eddie Schmidt, President of the Board of the International Documentary Association

Schmidt credits advances in digital technology in pushing US based documentarians to look beyond their own creative myopia and dive into stories that are international in nature. And ironically, he also credits RealityTV as giving those documentary producers the experience and skills to branch out and tell stories of more import – if they can get out of the never ending Reality cycle that is. “I think US documentary filmmakers benefit from the more regular employment of Reality TV,” says Schmidt, “because its directors of photography, editors, and post people all bounce between the two and bring what they learn in Reality to the wider canvas of docs.”

But Schmidt also says that online distribution is the goose that lays the golden egg for documentaries in the new millennium. Thanks to portals such as YouTube, Vimeo, and even reporting on the New York Times website, documentary content is finding an audience wherever they are online. “These days no one can tell you your film isn’t getting picked up and have that be the end of it. The battle now is for attention and eyeballs.”

And the Internet is also providing a valuable avenue for film finance as well. As filmmakers are forsaking traditional funding arms such as Film Market festivals and selling of their ideas to cable television, in favor of the concept of crowd sourcing to raise the necessary production funds. “Crowd-sourced funding platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are well suited to documentaries because they can engage non-filmmaking audiences drawn by the subjects of the films,” says Scott Macaulay is the Editor-in-Chief for Filmmaker Magazine. And Schmidt agrees, “…ten years ago, it would have been unthinkable to ask audiences to finance your film over the Internet but now it’s a totally viable way of getting $50-100K towards your budget, maybe more.”

Meanwhile, Lois Vossen of PBS says that while internet portals and social media provide for audiences to find new content, it’s also changing the way they watch it. “We still want a great story, well told and some of us will sit in a movie theater to watch that,” says Vossen, “and more of us will sit in our living room or with our laptops to watch it, but the way we watch is definitely changing.” Vossen also says that this new way of looking at documentaries are pulling the artform in new directions. Whether being online or through video games based on original documentaries, Vossen says are discovering bright new ways to tell their stories.

And the Internet is giving producers the means to speed up the news cycle as well. New York Times video journalist Jason Spingarn-Koff says that television networks are months behind, planning on the quarter or even by seasons, but online producers can take advantage of an instant 24/7 news cycle and get their documentaries out on the internet far faster. ” I think feature documentary filmmakers are excited about this format. They may have to spend years on a subject and now they can spend a few weeks or maybe even days and reach a wide audience and find satisfaction around that,” says Spingarn-Koff.

You can read more about this trend at TribeccaFilm.com.

A Spiritual Journey 心灵之旅

Stringing together a China-rooted family tree in New York seemingly impossible and impractical but that’s exactly what I’ve been doing since I became a parent in 1993. And it has since transformed and enlightened me.

The driving force behind it is search of myself. When I started this happenstance weekend project, I didn’t know how lonely it could be most of the times, how much I come to enjoy it and how important it is to my fulfillment and healing.

I’m the only child born and raised in Beijing. When I was seven years old my Mom committed suicide during the Cultural Revolution and I have never lived with my Dad. I remembered the audible whispers, mostly unsympathetic and some were down right malicious by kids and adults alike about my parents, especially Mom. As a kid, we all look up to our parents as teachers and protectors. During my school days in China I was very confused and lost but at the same time, refused to even think Mom’s suicide was a disgrace as some close relatives and adults implied. I never felt shame but utterly abandoned and unwanted. I could not bring myself to talk about my Mom before I became a mother. Each Chinese New Year when everyone has a family to spend with and a place called home to go to, was my saddest and loneliest day of the year, and wished I didn’t exit. I also often wished that my Mom might appear someday, even for a fleeing moment to hold my hand, and ask if I was hungry or cold.

For many years I resisted to have a child but once I did I found myself being totally taken by their sweetness and innocence. Then a little anger began to grow inside of me: how could my parents not love me? And why Mom was so selfish?

At the peak of my personal struggle I went as far as to seek out a psychologist … unfortunately to no avid. However, as my research progressing, I gradually understand my parents and my maternal grandparents. My world begins to open up from enclosed little shell where I used to hide. I now feel comfortable to look at my past with sense and sensibility.

My maternal grandma Popo had a terrible marriage and she often took it out on her middle child, my Mom. The beatings would leave bruises so colorful that could compete with a fruit stand as Lucy recalled them. Mom ran away at age of 12 and again at 14 to join the army. The uneducated older comrades in the army adored her and showered her with maternal love. Many relatives and close friends bewildered at Mom’s enthusiastic participation in the Culture Revolution. Did they miss the fact that Mom was searching for that elusive love and acceptance, and mistaken the Cultural Revolution as her army days? I knew I craved parental love and searched for it. So did my Dad. So did Popo.

Each person handles rejections and failure differently. Some wise enough to make timely correction and move on. Unfortunate circumstances occur almost everywhere, it’s universal. Some are severe while others are mild. But nevertheless, it is each individual’s decision as how to face the adversity: tackle it or escape it. As much as I love my Mom but I think she took the easy way out.

I’ve lost enough winnable matches on tennis court to realize the metaphor of life and tennis is the same: emerging as a winner you need to work hard at it. Be it that extra half step or employe a better strategy. No one gives you a free ride. Commit suicide on and off court is easy. Hitting that winning shot isn’t.

My soul stirring childhood left profound impact on my life. I could have steep in self pity and anger for the rest of my life. But I chose not to. This decades long genealogy research became the best therapy I’ve had, with the support of my loving family. I’m very fortunate.

Along this long and solitary genealogy research route – nothing less than breathtaking at times, I assure you – I benefited from many kind and rich sources, people and place like New York. I often worry that I may never be able to repay their/its generosity. Perhaps, myself discovery and each milestone are the best payment.

Few may consider my project of Li Hongzhang in New York is seeking connection in high place.

It isn’t.

I walk on many streets Li Hongzhang once traveled here in New York; I stayed at the same hotel he once lodged. I want to pay tribute to New York where I call it home, have my family and where it makes me whole.

Oscar The Epicure

Published in 1931

Of all the men who sprang from the Boldt regime, it is unlikely that any has achieved such world-wide affection and esteem as the kind-faced, solemn, quiet fellow now known as Oscar of the Waldorf-Astoria.

Whenever people, in America at least, speak of the art of eating, they invariably mention Oscar. His name has been inevitably associated with the Waldorf-Astoria; the lives of this man and the institution he has served so long interpenetrate. The fame of each has complemented the other. Yet Oscar’s last name is one of the mysteries that the public never troubles itself to solve. Everyone has been content to refer to him simply as Oscar, or “Mr. Oscar,” or “Oscar of the Waldorf,” and not even wonder why. One day he was asked to tell how arid why he is known in public—and often privately, for that matter—by no other name nor by any other tide.

“It is quite simple,” he said. “My last name is Tschirky. Whenever people used to address me they invariably stumbled in front of that last name. Even my superiors were perplexed by it. People would stammer over it and then, exhausted, would just gasp out `Oscar.’ This was so at Delmonico’s, when I was in charge of the catering department. It was embarrassing at first. At the Waldorf, people just ignored that last name and simply called me ‘Mr. Oscar.’ I accepted the situation gracefully enough; it solved a problem for me. Finally, whenever I was referred to in the newspapers, it was as Oscar. They usually did, of course, grant me the courtesy of a ‘Mister’ but beyond ‘Mr. Oscar’ they would not go. Indeed, they never even thought of me as a maitre d’hotel or a general manager. The name Oscar of the Waldorf, I soon was made to feel, was a title unto itself.

“Today, if a stranger were to address me as Mr. Tschirky, I’m almost afraid I’d be a little confused. For I, too, you see, have fallen into the habit of thinking of myself simply as Oscar.”

The story of Oscar is the story of an epicure at heart as well as by reputation. His fame, it would seem, has rested securely upon the condition that the public—erroneously, as we shall see—regards him as an artist who has composed sonatas in soups, symphonies in salads, minuets in sauces, lyrics in entrees. He has presided over the destinies of far more than a million people a year; that is to say, their stomachs.

Oscar was born in Lode, Canton de Neuchatel, Switzerland. He attended school at Chau de Fonds and Fribourg, the home of the first suspension bridge. He came to this country in May, 1883, the day before the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge.

An hour after his arrival he had applied for naturalization. (He received his papers on August 13, 1888.) And a little later on the same day he applied for his first position at the Brunswick. There was nothing available at the Brunswick, so he went to the Hoffman House, located at Twenty-sixth Street and Broadway (the building still stands today at the same address). There he secured his first position at five o’clock on the day of his arrival in the United States —a remarkable example of courage and determination.

But Oscar knew what he wanted. In spite of his youth he had determined ideas about hotels and restaurants. It was not long before people in the restaurant business learned of this. In 1891 he was on the staff of the old and famous Delmonico’s, then standing at Fifth -Avenue and Broadway (at the juncture where Twenty-sixth Street crosses). He became head of Delmonico’s catering department and his fame soon spread. The name “Oscar” began to be a by-word among the town’s epicures. Eventually he went with Hoffman’s to take charge of its famous Down-Town Restaurant and there he remained until he became one of the most colorful figures on the staff of any hotel in town.

How he proved himself fit to join the Waldorf is interesting. Although Oscar was well known and the Waldorf management was anxious to have him on its staff, Boldt, a stickler for business proprieties, requested formal letters of reference from Oscar. Oscar replied with only one letter. But it was nearly ten foolscap pages long! On those pages appeared the signature of some of the most famous New Yorkers of the day, for they had gladly put their names to a testimonial Oscar had drawn up. John W. Mackay, Sr., was one of them. Chief Justice Andrews, H. McKay Twombly, Dr. Seward Webb, and George Gould were others. It would be simple to find the other names just look into the social register of the early nineties, for a good many of the names therein were represented on Oscar’s testimonial.

From that time on, Oscar’s fame continued to increase. It was not only as a well-known hotel man: he was one of the colorful figures of the ‘nineties. The old Herald had a habit of referring to him sometimes as the “friend of gourmets and epicures, a confidant of swelldom.” Why not? Everybody thought so well of him. It was not surprising that Sir Thomas Lipton wrote, “I can assure you that in all my travels all over the world I have never been better cared for than while in your own good hands.” Nor was it unusual that Mrs. Mark Hanna wrote him frequent notes of a complimentary nature. For that mat-ter, the newspapers accepted him as an indispensable figure of the town. You might pick up a paper and see such an item as this crowding out a pompous foreign or domestic political story:

“Oscar says that the way to make French rolls is to mix a quart of flour with a little salt and two eggs, a table-spoonful of lard and two of yeast, with enough milk to make a good dough. Work it well and set out to rise for the night. In the morning work it thoroughly again and form it into rolls. Let these rise again and bake in a quick oven.”

Or, in perusing the sports news, you were apt to find that information concerning John L. Sullivan or Corbett was mixed up with some such intelligence as this:

“Oscar’s recipe for making the famous Waldorf sauterne cup is as follows: Put in the bottom of a punch-bowl or large glass pitcher a little shaved ice and sugar or syrup made of white sugar; add two ponies of brandy, one pony of Benedictine, and two-thirds of a pony of maraschino. Stir all together, put in a good-sized piece of ice, pour in a quart of sauterne and two bottles of plain soda. Decorate with fruit in season and garnish with a bunch of mint.”

If you seek a reason, subtler than his record, to explain his popularity, perhaps it may be found in his philosophic views on the art of eating that were constantly digested and applauded by the fastidious. It must be remembered that in the ‘nineties America in general had by no means approached Europe in its recognition of epicurean values. There are some who tell us we still lag. That is neither here nor there in this story. Oscar, however, helped to make us conscious of the merits to be found in leisurely dining. Here is what he wrote more than thirty years ago, and it remains a choice bit of commentary on the subject to this day:

“To eat one’s full merely to appease one’s appetite without finesse or selection is an avowal of barbarism worthy only of the wild beast or the savage. To savor and enjoy a banquet—one of our modern achievements of culinary art and imaginative effect—implies an enviable degree of race development in mind and manners.

“I admit frankly that when I am called upon to tempt the appetite of a cultured gastronomic organ, where eye and ear must serve as a whet, I receive my greatest delight and inspiration. Add to this order that other carte blanche —which lays no limit upon expenditure—then indeed one realizes that he has received a summons to create a work of artistic good cheer that should live in the memory of every participant. I have made it a rule, whatever the purpose of the feast, to work out my dinner with a settled design, what musicians would call leit motif.”

No wonder that when the elder J. Pierpont Morgan dined at the Waldorf he not only insisted that Oscar alone should supervise his meal, but would allow no one else in the private dining-room to serve him!

This philosophy of Oscar’s entered not merely into the creation of a great banquet, nor a private meal, but even in directing the booking of a single minor item. Once, for instance, when Malini, the famous conjurer, was in the United States he paid a visit to Oscar. He thought he would entertain the maitre d’hotel with an appropriate exhibition of magic.

“I make to appear,” said Malini, “an egg from your mouth.” And he did. An egg was extracted from Oscar’s lips. But Oscar was not entirely surprised at this magic.

“It is nothing,” observed the Waldorf’s maitre d’hotel. “From the egg I will produce an omelette which cannot be rivaled in magic.” And he did. The magic of that omelette so appealed to Malini’s taste that he later wrote his own magic was as nothing compared with the famous Oscar’s!

Yet here is the paradoxical thing about it all: Oscar is not and never was a chef. He never did any cooking for a hotel and his position always was administrative or managerial. Popular fancy made him a sublime cook when all he ever pretended to be was an overseer of public comfort. In this capacity, it is true, he supervised the appetites and gastronomic tastes of the Waldorf’s patrons. That, of course, is the job of a maitre d’hotel. But prepare salads! No, his job was too big for such a detail.

Under him were the cooks and the chefs and the waiters who carried out his orders.

‘What Oscar really was and is was expressed back in 1898 by the Sun:

“The maitre d’hotel is one European institution that does not flourish in America. One may see the title in a list of hotel employees; shadow of the important European maitre d’hotel, who is monarch of all he surveys–and he surveys everything and everybody. In the ordinary hotel of Europe he stands an imposing figure, at the door to welcome you. He assigns you to a room; he oversees the porter’s care of your luggage; he orders your dinner and superintends its serving; he engages your carriage, buys your theater tickets, plans your excursions, and when the day of your departure arrives he graciously deigns to pocket half a sovereign, gives you his blessing, and waves you a genial au revoir as you start for the station.

“Such a personage would be an impossibility in a great American hotel. No human being, unless he, like Cerberus, were three gentlemen in one, could personally attend to all the details of hotel management. Then, too, American hotel proprietors, while too dignified to do the actual work, like to run things themselves, and fear to trust implicitly to a subordinate. The chef, the head waiters, the clerks all twinkle in their own spheres and the proprietor careens among them like a distracted meteor.

“In only one New York hotel, however, is there a personage deserving to be called a maitre d’hotel. Anyone who studies him closely will soon arrive at a firm conviction that he might quite as appropriately have been called General or Admiral, if circumstances had not led him into the hotel business. Oscar knows everybody. He has won his place because the hotel proprietor, not being three gentlemen in one, had to make over an immense amount of authority to some one he could trust, and found that man in Oscar.”

There is something significant in this observation. For in latter days Oscar’s position in the hotel world has been unique. The average modern hotel, it is true, is an excel-lent, smooth, carefully run machine—yet it often, unfortunately, remains a machine. It has sought to copy the old Waldorf idea of having assistant managers on the floor, but frequently they reflect as glaring an impersonality as the pillars that support the beautifully arched beams of the lobby. What often is lacking is the personal touch, the greeting of the old tavern host, expansive, jolly, who used to stand at the door and bestow his best wishes upon one and all who entered through the doors. Of course, hotel life, generally speaking, has become too complex for that today. But Oscar has remained (I feel quite safe in saying) the last of the tavern hosts. The Times said in 1905:

“Oscar has an office adjoining the great east restaurant, and each morning, as surely as the clock strikes nine, he bustles in, opens his desk, goes over his mail, and then strolls about through the various dining-rooms, over-looking in a general way the service of breakfast. With one sweep of his eye he takes in everything that he wishes to see, and this, to the visitor, is no small part of his greatness. For as a result, that one glance tells him the name of every person in the room. If a person has arrived, say that morning or late the night before, Oscar makes it a point to go over and greet him with wellmodulated fervor. Of course, if the person is a stranger —that’s different.”

It was Oscar, indeed, who introduced the European custom of greeting patrons by name and bustling about, attending to their personal wants.

Meanwhile he had many other duties. For instance, he commanded a staff of 1,000 persons in the hotel, besides conducting a school for waiters—at the time the only one of its kind in the United States. He had some very interesting subjects to discuss at this school and the rules he laid down were strict. Here are a few of them:

When a guest is going into his pockets for money to pay his check all the waiters in his immediate vicinity are not to stop work and stand looking to see how much he gives his own waiter.

Never take water from a bottle on a table where a guest is seated.

Never present a check to a guest until asked.

But his greatest problem probably had to do with that now highly recognized and accepted institution of tip-ping. For a time there was little tipping in American restaurants, although it long had been a custom in Europe. Even over there the matter was debated considerably in the newspapers. In 1908 the International Association of Hotel Keepers, meeting in Rome, Italy, finally voted that inasmuch as tipping could not be abolished altogether, it must be regulated, and that they were the people to fix the scale of prices. They therefore determined that thereafter, when travelers wished it, they would undertake to distribute the tips, charging 15 per cent of bills not exceeding four dollars and 10 per cent for larger bills.

This scheme made no appeal to New York’s hotel men. They contended that Americans were too independent by nature to put up with such a plan and would resent being told what to do with their spare change. Oscar insisted it would mean a hotelkeeper was going into partnership with his help, which he would not do.

Discussion raged in the newspapers as to what amount of a tip a waiter deserved. In some European restaurants, it was noted, the 10-per-cent tip virtually had become compulsory. It was introduced over here.

Oscar did not object to this. His attitude was that it never should be compulsory for a guest to tip a waiter. Neither should the waiter at any time indicate that he expected a tip. On the other hand, Oscar felt that if the guest liked the service he received, it would be for him to decide the amount of a tip—if he cared to give one.

Of course, today the tip has become almost compulsory. True enough, there is no law governing it, nor is it made a specific expense, as is the couvert charge, for instance. Yet the guest knows and feels he is expected to pay a tip. For him to leave the restaurant without giving the waiter some “gratuitous” amount would be to carry away, perhaps, a guilty conscience that might threaten to wipe out the memory of an excellent meal. It has become an institution and it would be a little foolhardy for anyone to challenge it at this late date.

It was a more difficult problem, however, back in 1893, because it was something new. The public, in the first place, as usual felt meals were costly enough without paying tips. If you went into a first-class restaurant, the highest price you would have had to pay for a sirloin steak, with potatoes, bread and butter and coffee, was 85 cents. At one time, the standard price at Delmonico’s, the Waldorf, and other famous houses was 75 cents for this dish. When Kinsley, who came from Chicago to manage the Holland House, dared to boost the price for sirloin steak, with fixings, to 85 cents, some of the very best people who dined out regularly wrote to the newspapers and charged he was an extortioner!

In this connection it might be well to digress long enough to quote a few prices of the period. They’re interesting. We might find that one newspaper, denouncing the price-boosting of the so-called “Beef Trust,” printed the retail butcher shop prices for meat. These, by the way, were placed under the astonishing heading: “Prices That Stagger Humanity.” Today they would stagger us with joy. Then they staggered people with chagrin, anger, etc.

Sirloin steak, it seems, was 24 cents; lamb chops, 18 cents; pork chops, 18 cents; ham, i8 cents. Sugar was four cents a pound; eggs, 14 cents a dozen. Potatoes were 35 cents to 45 cents a bushel; butter, 24 cents to 25 cents a pound. Top hogs were sold at $4.15; wheat was 70 cents a bushel; corn, 33 cents; Texas steers, $4.25 a hundred (hundredweight) ; a turkey dinner in a Boston boarding-house could be had for 20 cents; a breakfast for 15 cents; second class, but good hotels furnished excellent single rooms for a $1 a day; rooms without “extra accommodations” were 50 cents a, day.

To continue: “ladies’ muslin nightgowns” were 19 cents each; French cheviots, water and dust proof serges, all high-class fabrics, warranted for color and wear, 79 cents; women’s shoes, $1.19; corsets (they wore them then), 50 cents; gingham, 5 cents a yard; men’s boxcalf shoes, $2.50; Stein-Bloch suits, $10 other suits, “once as high as $10,” now $8.

Yet these facts are getting away from the original statement that food in hotels and restaurants was expensive in those days, even though today we think the prices extremely cheap.

But in time, it became generally accepted that the waiter deserved some form of practical thanks from the guest, especially when it was realized that the average wage of a waiter then amounted to 83 cents a day. The waiters at first tried to spread propaganda against the tip. The reason for this was obvious: they wanted more wages.

Then newspapers took up the battle and, without arguing about waiters’ wages, were fiercely at odds about tipping. The Commercial Advertiser came out with the demand that tipping be forbidden—by law, if necessary. The World solemnly avowed that “the waiter should not be dependent on charity for adequate compensation.” The Herald, with the air of the melancholy Dane, observed that “nothing can be done about it; tipping must go on.”

The whole town was agog over this problem; letters were pouring into the newspapers. Finally the Sun, after taking a middle ground on the matter, came out in favor of a 10-per-cent tip. It based its suggestion on what it called the “Paris idea,” although its vogue was as wide-spread in other European capitals.

At last even the waiters accepted the 10-per-cent-tip idea. Oscar, although accepting this arrangement and al-lowing it in the Waldorf (which, of course, spelled its success in America) was firm against one of the evils that threatened to arise from it. The waiters, it seems, had decided it would be an excellent thing to “pool” their tips. This was another European custom. All the money given as tips to waiters was placed in a common pool and evenly divided among the gentlemen who also serve. Oscar was definitely opposed to it. He insisted that the arrangement would not be just, It would enable the careless worker to get as much as the one who was courteous and attentive.

He won in that fight and it was an excellent thing for the dining public that he did. If he had lost, it might very well have resulted in a form of tyranny that would have been felt today by every guest who sits down at a table in a public restaurant: You would have not merely one waiter wondering about the size of your tip; the whole dining-roomful of them would be greatly concerned about it.

Such problems, as later chapters will show, were but minor ones in the life of Oscar. He was so greatly concerned with the art of dining and of living that he never hesitated to speak his mind about anything that threatened his public’s welfare. He was the same way in his contacts with individuals and organizations that dined at the Waldorf.

I suppose that accounts for the fact that he is unique among all the hotel hosts of the world; he has been decorated by three governments. When Prince Carol of Rumania (now the king) visited the United States in August, 1920, he did not leave the Waldorf-Astoria without pinning the Order of the Crown of Rumania upon Oscar’s breast. Reason? Excellent service, kindness and intelligent supervision of the prince’s cuisine. Again, France sent him a medal which bestowed upon him the tide of Chevelier of the Ordre Merite Agricole. It was given “in recognition of your unfailing interest in and courtesy to citizens of France traveling in America and in particular for your untiring efforts in the entertainment of the French people who have visited the Waldorf-Astoria.”

The third award came from the King of the Belgians during his visit in December, 1919. At first the king was informed Oscar was an Austrian. It was a sorry misunderstanding. But when the whole matter was cleared up the king approached Oscar and said:

“Oscar, I thank you very much for everything you have done during my presence. I am very sorry that this misunderstanding happened, but I shall see that you get your reward.”

That reward came in good time. It was a medal of the Order of the Crown. Oscar forgave the king!

Interesting Family History Related Facts

Interesting Family History Statistics from Family Odyssey:

  1. Family History is the fastest growing hobby in the United States.
  2. Our aging population want to leave a legacy for their family as to who we are, what have we accomplished and where did we come from?
  3. Genealogy societies exist in every county in the U.S.
  4. More records are becoming available on line through many organizations.
  5. LDS New Family Search ready for Global Open membership in 2010 reaching hundreds of millions of people.
  6. Genealogy is becoming a big business, ABC’s “Find My Family” show and “Who Am I?” are very popular genealogy oriented TV programs.
  7. Baby boomers are computer literate and growing in to the hobby of Family History research.
  8. DNA is becoming better understood and utilized more each day as it opens up new avenues to do genealogy work more quickly and accurately and in extending family trees.
  9. Genealogy is becoming a factor in health care.
  10. Google’s has made a huge investment in 23andMe, a DNA health and family history company.
  11. Ancestry.com has become a household name and just raised over $150,000,000.
  12. One of the few things in our society that will help families stay together is Family History.
  13. The second most researched topic on the internet is family history research.
  14. FamilySearch.org has over 1 billion family names to research and has had over 15 billion hits since its launch and over 60,000 visitors each day.


  1. 家族史是在美国增长最快的爱好
  2. 我们的老一代希望给他们的家庭留下来的遗产是:我们是谁, 我们有什么成就以及我们来自哪里?
  3. 美国的每一个县都有族谱社
  4. 通过许多不同的组织现在网路上有更多的记录可供搜索
  5. 谱系已成为一个大企业, ABC电视台的“找到我的家人”节目和“我是谁吗?”是非常受欢迎的家谱为主的电视节目
  6.  婴儿潮一代计算机使用者, 他们逐渐变成家庭史研究的爱好
  7. 谱系成为医疗保健的一个因素
  8. 谷歌先后两次投资在一个DNA个人基因组学和家庭历史的公司, 23andMe. 总额 US$6,500,000
  9. Ancestry.com 是一家在线家族史资源公司, 2009上市. 现在有1亿美元的市值 (Feb 17, 2012: 44,050,000 shares at US$24.34 )
  10. 在互联网上第二个最多搜索的主题是家庭史
  11. FamilySearch.org 有超过1亿的姓氏可以搜索,自推出以来有超过15亿次的点击, 每天超过60,000名网客