life rattle show no. 1236

Presented on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2012


Hosted by laurie kallis


"The Christmas Turkey"

by Nancy Chong

tonight's Show

Life Rattle No. 1236  features a seasonal Life Rattle classic written and read by Nancy Chong.

As well as contributing many fine stories to this radio program, tonight’s writer, Nancy Chong was invaluable as an early Unknown Writers festival co-ordinator and multi-faceted volunteer for many Life Rattle projects.

Nancy Chong was born the fourth of six children, in 1955 in Toronto, on Phoebe Street, which straddles the trendy Queen Street west area and the Spadina Avenue Chinatown. In 1958, when Nancy was almost four years old, her father died and her mother, who spoke no English, was suddenly left with six children. To support them, Soo-Jin Chong started sewing piecework for the garment industry on Spadina. She sewed from morning to night, and she got the kids working too. She became so adept at dealing with the clothing manufacturers on Spadina that she became the chief negotiator on behalf of a number of Chinese women.

In 1992 Nancy Chong began writing a book about her mother. This was complicated because Nancy did not speak Chinese very well and her mother spoke only Chinese. Fortunately, Nancy received a Canada Council Explorations Grant that enabled her to hire an interpreter to help her interview her mother.

Soo-Jin Chong died in March 1997 at the age of seventy-six. Tonight’s story presents an account of Nancy’s ground level research, as she accompanied her mother to Honest Ed's, where they lined up early to get free turkeys. I’m sure this story will spark some Honest Ed’s memories for a lot of people in Toronto.

The recording of this story has been transferred from cassette tape, and the quality of the sound is not as good as it should be, but after you listen, you’ll know why we couldn’t leave this story on the shelf.