Life in a laundry is long and lonely

chin ldy lady Bud Glick CT gallery

Photographer Bud Glick included several excellent photos from inside a Chinese laundry (#14-#17) in his online photo gallery of New York Chinatown taken about 30 years ago. This photo of a woman, possibly the laundryman’s wife, says more than words can tell about her long and tiring days in the laundry. An excellent interview of Bud Glick discloses how he approaches the people in his photographs and shows his sensitivity to their feelings.  He shares a remarkable anecdote in which a Chinese man, moved after viewing some of Glick’s photos, decided to send Glick a photo of himself when he was a young boy, not knowing that it had been taken by Bud Glick some 30 years earlier.  The original negative had been destroyed in a fire, so Glick no longer had this photo until this providential contact occurred.

A White Approach to Running A Chinese laundry

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In 1932, during the Great Depression two white men decided to take over the operation of Tom Sing’s  Chinese laundry in Kinston, North Carolina.  Times were hard then, as the men, an electrician and a printer, were both unemployed. Sing must have also had financial woes as he abandoned his laundry and its equipment intact.

1932 white run chin ldy kinston nc

I do not have any information about how successful this novel experiment involving the first whites to run a Chinese laundry, but judging from their mis-conception that the ‘approved Chinese style’ for a laundry was to gift customers with lily bulbs and tea, I suspect they did not last very long.