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放弃千万美元,纽约华人家族守住百年老店

更新时间:2016-10-10 9:44:28 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

On Brink of a Sale, Family Shop in Chinatown Stays in Family
放弃千万美元,纽约华人家族守住百年老店

When the narrow streets of Chinatown overflow on weekends, a few tourists always end up in Wing on Wo & Co. to browse porcelain antiques and jade ornaments. But they rarely stay long, quickly leaving to join dozens in the line outside a trendy new ice cream shop down the block.

当华埠狭窄的街道周末挤满了人时,总有几个游客最终会走进“永安和”,来浏览瓷器古玩和玉器。但他们极少在店里长时间停留,他们会很快离开,加入到街上一家新开的时尚冰淇淋店外排出的几十人的长队中。

In their haste to Instagram their ice cream, however, they neglect history. Wing on Wo’s humble red-painted storefront at 26 Mott Street is said to be the oldest continuously run business in Chinatown. It opened on Mott as a general store in the 1890s. Its old tin awning still advertises “Oriental Gifts.”

然而,就在他们忙着用Instagram把冰淇淋的照片发到网上时,他们却忽略了历史。“永安和”位于莫特街26号,其红色油漆的店面不怎么起眼,但据说它是华埠最古老的持续经营的商店。它于1890年代在莫特街开张,当时是一家杂货店。“永安和”古老的锡雨篷上,仍然打着“Oriental Gifts”(东亚礼品)的广告。

The family that established Wing on Wo more than a century ago still runs things, and its members take shifts pitching in, although the shop’s appearance doesn’t suggest any important heritage. Its shelves are dusty, its pace is sleepy and foot traffic is slow, even with the crowds that Sunday afternoons often bring to the neighborhood.

一个多世纪前创办了“永安和”的那个家庭仍在经营该店的业务,家庭成员们轮流到店里来帮忙,尽管店铺外观的样子并不像是一处重大遗产。店铺的货架上有尘土,生意也颇为冷清,即使在周日下午,这一带往往人流如织的时候,店里的客流量也很少。

But Wing on Wo’s placid atmosphere was a stage for high drama this summer. After wrestling with the notion, the family decided to sell the shop and its six-story building, which they also own, ready to sever ties with what was becoming a burden. It would also have made them very rich: The building might be worth as much as $10 million, according a broker who handles Mott Street properties. Ultimately, they walked back from the sale, narrowly averting the end of five generations of family ownership, an increasingly rare species in this city of rising towers and rents.

但“永安和”平静的气氛却在今年夏天成为一件极富戏剧性事情的背景。经过一番左思右想后,这家人决定卖掉“永安和”及其所在的6层建筑(他们也是该建筑的拥有者),与这个正在成为负担的商店一刀两断。这会让他们变得非常富有:据一个在莫特街从事房产交易的经纪人说,他们的这栋楼价值可能高达1000万美元(约合人民币6600万元)。但他们最终放弃了卖楼的打算,在差点把传了五代人的房产转手之际,把它留了下来。在这座高楼林立、租金上涨的城市里,五代人持续拥有的物业正在变得日益稀少。

“They are leaving a big pile of cash on the table for their heritage,” said the broker, Will Suarez, a director at the commercial real estate company Cushman & Wakefield.

“为了传承,他们放弃了一大笔现金,”商业地产公司高纬物业(Cushman & Wakefield)的经纪人威尔·苏亚雷斯(Will Suarez)说。

Wing on Wo’s salvation appeared in Mei Lum, 26, the second-youngest of the family’s five grandchildren. She turned down acceptance to graduate school at Columbia University last May to interrupt the store’s sale and offered to take it over. She is now reinventing the shop, molding it into a community space that operates against the backdrop of Chinatown’s history. The antiques will become secondary; instead, she envisions a forum for panels on issues like neighborhood politics, exhibitions for local artists and a coffee shop. Ms. Lum held an event recently at the store on the neighborhood’s gentrification, and a planned panel will include influential businesswomen from Chinatown. She calls her concept the “W.O.W. Project.”

救下“永安和”的是26岁林美虹(Mei Lum),她在家族的5个孙子辈孩子中,年龄排倒数第二。今年5月,她放弃了哥伦比亚大学(Columbia University)研究生院的录取,打断了家人卖掉“永安和”的计划,提出要接手这个店铺。现在,她正在改造店铺,把它变为一个以华埠历史为背景的社区空间。古董生意将称为次要的事情;她的设想是用店铺的空间作为论坛的场所,讨论诸如社区政治等问题,还可为当地艺术家举办作品展,以及开一家咖啡店。林美虹最近在店里举办了一个关于这个社区被改造为高阶层生活区的活动,她打算举办的讨论将有华埠有影响力的女企业家参与。林美虹把自己的设想称为“永安和计划”。

Ms. Lum was traveling in China when her father in New York called to inform her that her grandparents, Nancy and Shuck Seid, 86 and 92, were selling the shop. Mrs. Seid, who inherited the shop from her father’s family, managed it for decades, while Mr. Seid worked for years as a clerk in the New York Police Department’s Fifth Precinct in Chinatown. Mrs. Seid said she was exhausted and wanted to spend time with her aging husband, who now speaks little and is in a wheelchair.

父亲从纽约给她打电话时,林美虹正在中国旅行,父亲在电话中告诉她,她92岁的外祖父雷柏锐(Shuck Seid)和86岁的外祖母雷南希(Nancy Seid)要把店铺卖掉。雷南希从自己父亲家里继承了“永安和”,经营该店已经好几十年了。雷柏锐在位于华埠的纽约警察局第五分局当了多年的职员。雷太太说自己已经精疲力竭了,想和年迈的丈夫过些悠闲日子,雷先生现在已不太说话,而且行动需要轮椅。

“Every little thing becomes a problem when you get old,” Mrs. Seid said, surrounded by family at Wing on Wo on a recent afternoon. “You don’t want to deal with things anymore. So I told them: Sell the damn thing.”

最近一个下午,家人在“永安和”围在雷太太的身边,她说,“年龄大了,各种小事都变成了问题。不想再对付这些事情了。所以我跟他们说:卖掉这该死的东西。”

Mei’s father, Gary Lum, 61, sat beneath the shop’s dusty industrial ceiling fan. “On the one hand, you want to walk into the sunset,” he said. “But you also have to consider what it means to close something like this after all these years.”

林美虹61岁的父亲加里·林(Gary Lum)坐在店铺里挂的一个积尘的工业吊扇下面。他说,“一方面,你要考虑走进夕阳的问题。但你也不得不考虑,卖掉一家历史如此悠久的店铺意味着什么。”

Ms. Lum’s early fascination with Chinese history set her apart from the other grandchildren. Growing up in Chinatown, she relished afternoons with her tradition-minded grandfather, who taught her Cantonese and the teachings of Confucius. Any skepticism from friends about passing up a prestigious education, she said, weighed on her only momentarily.

林美虹在很小的时候就对华人历史感兴趣,这让她与其他孙辈人不同。她在华埠里长大,喜欢与传统观念较强的外公度过下午放学后的时间,外公教她说广东话,还给她讲孔子的教诲。朋友们对她放弃到名牌大学读书的机会很不解,她说,不过,这给她带来的苦恼很快就过去了。

“The wheels were turning. It was on the market. I had to act fast,” Ms. Lum said. “You’re supposed to get all these shiny things and then go onto better things, right? But I had to think about my impact. How can I make a global impact if I haven’t even had an impact on my own community? Graduate school will always be there. This won’t.”

“已经动起来了。店铺已在市场上挂牌销售。我必须迅速采取行动,“林美虹说。“人们认为你应该拿到各种闪亮的证书,然后去找更好的工作,不是吗?但我不得不考虑我能有什么影响。如果我不能影响自己社区的话,我怎样能影响世界呢?研究生院永远会在那里。但这个店不会。”

Wellington Chen, the director of Chinatown’s business improvement district, pondered the shop’s new chapter and said Ms. Lum was challenging a troubling neighborhood narrative. “These children get the degree or the big job or the car, and then no one ever comes back,” he said. “That is the problem we have with young people in Chinatown now. Can she make the shop relevant? We have to see. But I applaud her for coming back, because no one is coming back.”

惠灵顿·陈(Wellington Chen)是华埠商业改善区的主任,他琢磨着“永安和”的新篇章说,林美虹向一种令人不安的社区前景作出了挑战。“这些孩子拿到了学位,找到了好工作,买了汽车,就不再回来了,”他说。“这就是华埠目前面临的年轻人问题。她能让这个店与时俱进吗?我们还得看看。但我对她回来鼓掌欢迎,因为没有人回来。”

Ms. Lum’s new vision for Wing on Wo, ironically, resembles the store’s original incarnation over 100 years ago, when Chinatown spanned just Pell, Doyers, Bayard and Mott Streets, and was populated by people who felt very far from home.

具有讽刺意味的是,林美虹为“永安和”设想的新愿景,与这家老店100多年前的最初情形很相似,当时华埠只包括佩尔街、多尔斯街、拜亚街和莫特街,居住在这里的人感到是住在离家乡非常遥远的地方。

General stores like Wing on Wo were crucial hubs in this early village-like stretch. They sold tastes of home like dried fish, herbs and tofu, but they also operated as social clubs, representing Chinese villages and counties, and provided mail and money-wiring services.

早期的华埠像个村子,“永安和”这样的杂货店是关键的聚集点。它们不仅出售家乡风味的鱼干、草药和豆腐,而且也起着社交俱乐部的作用,代表着中国的县城和乡村,还提供收发邮件和汇款的服务。

Ms. Lum’s great-great-grandfather, Walter Eng, opened Wing on Wo at 13 Mott Street, opposite the shop’s current location (it moved in 1925). It was a dimly lighted place, family members said, filled with men in felt hats who smoked Lucky Strikes and drank Martinson coffee while playing mah-jongg to pass the time. A roast pig usually hung from a ceiling, and there was a resident herbalist.

林美虹的曾曾祖父沃尔特·王(Walter Eng)在禾莫特街13号开办了“永安和”,就在目前店面的街对面(店铺在1925年搬到了现在的位置)。家人说,原来的地方光线暗淡,里面挤满了戴着毡帽的男人,他们抽“好彩”(Lucky Strikes)烟,喝马丁森(Martinson)咖啡,用打麻将来打发时间。天花板上经常悬挂着一头烤猪,店里还有一位常驻草药师。

Mrs. Seid inherited the shop in 1964, recasting the general store as a purveyor of antiques and porcelain (“I wasn’t going to cut meat,” she said indignantly). When the United States’ trade relations with China reopened after President Nixon’s 1972 trip there, she began annual buying trips with her husband. They would send back loads of plates and teapots from Hong Kong in stamped wooden crates; 200 of these crates collect dust in the shop’s basement, and Ms. Lum started a contest for local artists to re-envision them (an extra-long skateboard and a garden bench are among the entries).

雷太太1964年继承了店铺后,把杂货店改成了古董和瓷器店(“我才不会去切肉呢,”她愤愤不平地说)。尼克松总统1972年访问中国、美国与中国恢复了贸易关系之后,她和丈夫每年都要去中国采购商品。他们把采购来的大批盘子和茶壶,从香港用木条钉成的箱子装运回来;店铺的地下室还堆着200个这样的包装箱,上面积满了灰尘。林美虹想通过一个艺术赛,让本地艺术家们给包装箱派上新用途(提交的作品中有一个超长滑板,还有一个花园长椅)。

Many old businesses in Chinatown did not survive the economic slump after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The day brought a personally searing loss for Wing on Wo: The Seids’ only son and heir apparent to the store, Stuart, died in the south tower. “It took years out of them,” said Mei’s father, Gary Lum. “They were planning to retire then but had to pull themselves up from their bootstraps all over again.”

华埠很多老店铺都未能挺过2001年9月11日恐怖袭击后的经济衰退。那天也给“永安和”本身带来一个重大打击:雷家唯一的儿子、店铺的当然继承人斯图尔特(Stuart)死于世贸中心的南楼。“这件事让他们老了好几岁,”林美虹的父亲加里·林说。“他们那时曾打算退休不干了,但又不得不振作精神,从头再来。”

Today, Chinatown’s youth show little interest in staying in the neighborhood. “The soil is loose for the new generation,” Mr. Lum added. “The older folks dug their toes into the soil of this neighborhood. They lived, played, worked, and celebrated in it.”

如今,华埠的年轻人对留在这个社区的兴趣不大。“对新一代人来说,这里的土壤不坚固,”林先生说。“老一辈在这个社区的土壤里扎下了根。他们住在这里,在这里娱乐、工作,庆祝人生大事。”

He commended his daughter’s sensibilities. “It was never about the gold ring for her,” he said. “Or to want Jaguars, Tag Heuers, or a house in the Hamptons. I didn’t raise her like that.”

他称赞了女儿的社区情结。“对她来说,黄金首饰什么的从来都没有多大意思,”他说。“她也不想要美洲虎(Jaguars)、泰格豪雅(Tag Heuer),或是汉普顿的房子。我没有把她培养成那种人。”

The Seids seemed pleased to be free of Wing on Wo’s burdens one recent Saturday morning at the shop. They had just finished one of their standing dim sum breakfasts at Ping’s next door. David Eng, a family friend, stood by Mr. Seid, who sat calmly in his wheelchair, wearing a felt cap.

最近一个周六的上午,在“永安和”店里,雷氏夫妇看来对摆脱了这个负担颇为满意。他们刚在隔壁的“升辉城”(Ping's)站着吃了早茶,他们经常在那里吃早点。他们的朋友大卫·黄(David Eng)站在雷先生身边,雷先生安静地坐在轮椅上,头上戴着一顶毡帽。

“My father always told me when I was growing up: This is a good man,” Mr. Eng said. “He didn’t say that about a lot of people.”

黄先生说,“我小时候,父亲总跟我说:他是个好人。 很多人在父亲眼里得不到这种评价。”

The Seids soon departed to their apartment in the nearby Chatham Towers complex, and Mr. Eng, who had been giving advice to Ms. Lum, returned to his shop, Fong Inn Too, which has made tofu in the area since 1931.

雷氏夫妇很快就离开了,回到附近查塔姆大厦他们的公寓里,一直在给林美虹出主意的黄先生也回到了自己的店铺“宏安”(Fong Inn Too),这家店自1931年起就在华埠做豆腐。

“I wasn’t ready for David to grill me so early,” she remarked to her father. “He asked me lots of questions. Do you think you’re too young? Are you ready for this? Do you need an introduction with this person?”

“没想到大卫这么早就来盘问我,”林美虹对父亲说。“他问了一大堆问题。你不觉得自己太年轻吗?你准备好了吗?你需要介绍你认识这个人吗?“

“He’s just had a lot of coffee,” her father said.

“他刚喝了太多的咖啡,”她父亲说。

The father and daughter kept chatting. Ms. Lum’s mother, Lorraine, busied herself around the store. A cousin prepared food in the back kitchen, where a trapdoor leads to the oven room once used for roasting whole pigs. As the ice cream shop’s line grew outside, and tourists walked along Mott, Wing on Wo continued to bear witness to it all.

父女俩继续聊着天。林美虹的母亲洛林(Lorraine)在店里忙碌着。一个表亲在后面的厨房里做饭,厨房地板上有一扇暗门,通向曾经用来烤全猪的炉室。冰淇淋店外排队的人更多了,游客在莫特街走过,“永安和”在继续见证着这一切。

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