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Founded in 1989 by Lynn Peters Adler, J.D.
Centenarian Expert and Older Adults Advocate

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Ms. magazine: 20th Century Foxes
Interviews by Lynn Peters Adler, Founder and Director, National Centenarian Awareness Project
A Century of

Women

 

 Lui Kiu Yee, 100

Lui Kiu Yee, 100
Born: July 16, 1899; Canton, China
Resides: San Francisco, Calif.
Descendants: 9 children, 41 grandchildren, 37 great grandchildren,
4 great-great-grandchildren, Occupation: Homemaker


Lui Kiu Yee was married by arrangement at age 18 in her native China. Her husband, who had already emigrated to the U.S., traveled back and forth throughout their married years, working in the States and saving money to support his family in China. In 1966, Lui finally joined him in California (the entire family eventually settled there) and quickly adjusted to her new surroundings: "The Chinese are very adaptable. We get used to new places very easily." She currently lives in her own apartment in a seniors' residence.

What was the most important thing that happened for women during this century?
There have been so many changes. In China, in 1911, that was the year of the Revolution. Before that, all the wealthy ladies had to tie the girls' feet when they were five or six years old. Women were supposed to stay home and take care of children, and we had to wear a hat and cover our faces in public.

How did it affect your life?
After the Revolution, ladies did not have to tie their feet. This was so good for me, because I only had to do it for a few years. Some ladies had feet as small as three inches. I was lucky. I can walk normal. All of my life I have been thankful for this.

What advice would you give to girls today?
You have to be able to take care of yourselves. Support your family and take care of each other. Be strong, be tough, and teach your kids to respect their parents and grandparents.


More about Mrs. Yee

 

Lynn recently celebrated Chinese New Year's with Mrs.Yee and her family at a restaurant in San Francisco's Chinatown and gives this additional glimpse into Mrs. Yee's fascinating life.

Celebrating Chinese New Year's
Celebrating Chinese New Year's.  
From left to right are Cindy Wong
(Mrs.Yee's granddaughter), Kristie
(Cindy's 8-year old daughter), Lynn Adler
and Mrs.Yee.


"Mrs. Yee's favorite dish at our dim sum feast was the chicken feet! Having tried this delicacy once many years ago in Hong Kong (where they are sold from stands on the street, as we sell hot dogs in this country — especially in New York City), I passed and generously gave my portion to Mrs. Yee! She was delighted, and I was relieved!

"At the table just beside us there was a family also of four generations, with the grandmother 98 years old. I found it interesting that she knew Mrs.Yee and they exchanged pleasantries in Cantonese dialect.

"It was very interesting for me to observe the respect given by younger generations to their elders, both inside the restaurant and on the sidewalk and street outside. Young men were opening doors and rushed to stop traffic as we crossed the busy street. None of the children in the restaurant were playing with hand-held computer games or coloring or reading books, as is so often the case at family gatherings in public restaurants all over this country. The young people were engaged in conversation with their elders, and the elders were an integral part of the group. The noise level was deafening, and everyone was having a very good time! The parents and grandparents and great grandparents were not "tolerated" as is so often observed at American gatherings, by their descendents. I was very pleased to see this.

 Click for more "20th Century Foxes" >>>

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