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On Retirement

Some Found Recollections

Before the change over, we were preparing to go to San Francisco and be away from the celebration.  Unfortunately, Lucy tripped on the telephone wire in her office and broke her kneecap so we had cancelled our original plans and stayed at White Jade. 

Our very good friend Shirley Young, mother of our two godsons by her first husband George Hsieh, David and Billy, and stepdaughter of V K Wellington Koo was in Hong Kong, so she came to join us to watch the ceremony.  She was the one responsible for bringing the Chinese composer Tan Dun 譚盾 who made use of the ancient Chinese hanging bells as a musical instrument.

I believe it is the common practice in US that you can be the godmother of one person without the husband being the godfather.  Therefore, Shirley’s first son David is Lucy’s godson and the second son Billy is my godson.  She has a third son Douglas – Dougy – as he is known.  All three of them had stayed with us at White Jade when they came to Hong Kong so we really saw the three boys growing up.  We attended the weddings of Billy in Florida and Douglas in New York but somehow missed David’s in Vail.

On one of the visits Billy made to Hong Kong later, he wanted to buy a watch and I told him to try his skill at bargaining.  He did very well and, made the shop clerk to drop the price in half EXCEPT he did not know what currency they were talking about and had to ask the clerk after they agreed on the price!

The Bridge Family

Their late father George Hsieh was a dedicated bridge player and a devoted father and teacher.  He had trained his sons in bridge from a very young age.

In fact the day Billy was due, we were all playing bridge at Raymond Yang’s home in New Jersey.  Shirley and I were partners and playing at three no-trump when the crucial moment came.  I was the one who were going to drive Shirley and was very excited but Shirley being herself was so calm and insisted to finish the contract!  I told her that in case I couldn’t make it in time to the Hospital, ‘Caprice” (a Chevrolet hardtop) which was the car I was driving might have become Billy’s middle name.

Douglas became the youngest life master in the world in 1981 at the age of eleven years ten months and two day.  The Hsieh family team went on playing tournament after tournament.

The following was excerpt from an ACBL website article:

The players who became youngest Life Master in the Eighties have yet to make a substantial mark on the national and international scene – but they are younger than ever – with two pre-teens completing the prestigious list of a dozen Youngest Life Masters.

In 1980, Billy Hsieh became a Life Master at the age of 13 years, 7 months old. Then in 1981, Andrew Kaufman broke the record when he was 13 years, 4 months and 15 days old.

In 1981, Doug Hsieh astounded the bridge world by becoming a Life Master at the age of 11 years, 10 months and 4 days. Doug, younger brother of Billy Hsieh, is a member of a well-known bridge playing family of four ACBL Life Masters. When his achievement was announced by the ACBL, one writer predicted that his record “is likely to stand well into the next century.”

Doug held the title for almost seven years until Sam Hirschman came along in 1988 when he was 11 years, 9 months and 5 days old.


Another milestone event was the coming of the 21st century.  We decided to spend the special occasion in San Francisco with H T Liu and his family at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.  The much worried Y2K bug in the computer industry did not materialize so it was a great relief.

Shirley’s third son Dougy got married in Sept 2002 to Annabelle Feng.  We were invited and made a special trip to New York City for the wedding.  Special rooms were blocked at the Plaza Hotel where the wedding reception and dinner were held.  It was a very rare occasion seeing all our old friends from the days we were living in the US.

The Retrenchment of Coleman Group of Companies

After I moved back to Hong Kong and took over the helm of G R Coleman & Co. (HK) Ltd, I made the move to simplify the Company name to Colemanco Limited.  With its subsidiaries in Taiwan, Singapore and later Kuala Lumpur, I had the vision of changing the names of our office products companies to “Office of Tomorrow” which was only used in Kuala Lumpur.

After the change over, under the One Country Two Systems concept, Hong Kong became a Special Administration Region of China.  Most of the textile and apparel manufacturers had already moved their production inland to save production cost.  The textile machinery companies Coleman group represented were all eyeing the mainland market as a whole with plans of setting up their own branch.  The traditional concept of exclusive distributorship by territory no longer can work.  This means not only our customers in the textile industry were getting less and less but also the companies we represented were reviewing their distribution method.  Therefore, with the textile machinery clients on the decline, I decided to gradually phasing out our business.  S Fukuhara of the Fukuhara Precision Machinery Company, Ltd had always wished that Coleman companies would exclusively handle the Fukuhara business, so I decided to sell our Taiwan subsidiary to the management and staff of that company.  Before that, I had already liquidated our Singapore subsidiary alone with the one in Kuala Lumpur because of the management problems.

In Hong Kong, Coleman Engineering Company (HK) Ltd which was set up to serve the textile field separating from Coleman Business Systems (HK) Ltd was put into dormant stage after H F Ku, the managing director succeeding C T Yuk was approached by Fukuhara to join their Company.

Another reason because of which I decided to phase out all business was the banking facilities we had been given based only on our balance sheet were cancelled.  It could be the uncertainty facing the change over in 1997 or it could be because of my age.  I suspect the latter because the credit rating of most of the family business usually depended only on one person, the owner.

The only remaining business under Coleman Business Systems group was the Paxar Label printing machines and supplies.  When Paxar was sold to Avery Dennison in 2005, it was to be expected that its distribution system would be consolidated, so I decided to give the business to Miles Wong and Jennifer Ma for almost nothing but neglected to insist that they could not continue to use Coleman or Hai Ching as the company name.

Apparently because of the new technology and the competition, the Paxar hot stamp transfer printing machine and supply business had limited growth.  In 2009, I learned that Miles had to close the Company and Jennifer on top of losing the job also had health problem.  It was sad to learn that in early 2010, she passed away from cancer.

Post Retirement in Hong Kong

Since our return from San Francisco after my spinal surgery in 2005, except to the Birthday celebration of Yungfong, I have not done any travelling because of the difficulties in walking.  I still keep my office at Colemanco’s own quarters and go there almost everyday mostly to work on my own matters.  Once a week, we have a bridge game alternatively at the American Club and the Shanghai Club from 2:30 to 7:30 PM followed by dinner.  The regular players were Patrick Tsai, David Wu and Richard Liu with Peter Hseuh and Johnny Tsai as backups.  This was started in 2005 and I tried to make it every week.

Lucy’s sister Emily and her husband Tony came to Hong Kong in late 2008 and we invited them together with their friends Raymond and Cathy Koo, Janny and Lee Shu together with Joan Chu to dinner at the Lei Garden in the IFC mall.  They came again in March 2010 and spent several days in Hong Kong before going to Hangzhou and Shanghai.

In 2010, Amy Hsieh’s parents, Joan and Bob Lafferty were celebrating Bob’s 75th Birthday and they took the round-the-world cruise on Queen Victoria stopping by Hong Kong overnight on March 10th.  We invited them to dinner at the Aberdeen Marina Club which they enjoyed greatly.  Bob saw the new camera I got, a Nikon touch screen CoolPix model which he liked so much, he went to get one the next day just before the ship sailed.  The Queen Victoria has a displacement of 90,000 ton so she had to drop anchor at the container port instead of Ocean Terminal.  She arrived at 8:00 AM Wednesday and departed at 4:00 PM next day, so with shuttle buses taking 2000 passengers to Ocean Terminal, there really wasn’t too much time to spend in the city.  Lucy met them for lunch at the Peninsular the first day and took them shopping the whole afternoon and then again the next morning.  I only had dinner with them the day they were in port.  

The other annual event was the visit of the EUs.  Since they moved out of their house in Shatin to live in San Diego, they usually come back for a month just before Chinese New Year.  In 2008, Karen took an extra trip all by herself.  Whenever they came, we always spent as much time as possible with them and went to all their favorite Cantonese and Shanghainese restaurants.  In 2010, Kay with her daughter-in-law came to join them for a weekend so we had a rare reunion of being friends of 64 years.  

Our longest stay in San Francisco was from April 2011 to January 2012, a full eight months.  It was also the first trip without a car because the difficulty for me to drive.  We found most of our friends used to live in the city had moved away so our social activities were at a minimum.  My cousin Charles’ son Qiduan was nice enough to make a special trip from Canada to come to see us for a weekend.  He is now an associate professor at the University of British Columbia and also a bronze life master of ACBL.  He is such a nice person who reminded me so much about his father.  We were indeed happy to meet him in person.  

In the meantime, through cyberspace, cousin May’s youngest son ‘little Peter’ as well as the daughter of the youngest son of my first Uncle (by his third wife) both hit upon my website and thus be able to re-establish contact with relatives.  In fact, Qiduan is to meet Michael and his sister Julia’s family in Vancouver when they come back from a cruise to Alaska.  My first Uncle’s son now living in Chicago also wanted to join them. It would be a mini family reunion if there was ever one.

The Future Descendents of the YANG Clan

Starting with the Marco Polo Bridge incident, followed by the Japanese invasion of China, the Second World War, the Communists taking over the Chinese main land, the Culture Revolution and the change over of Hong Kong and Macau, two generations of the YANG family lived through a three quarter century of political turmoil.   Several branches of the family went from Shanghai to Hong Kong after the Japanese invasion.  Most of them went with the government to the interior after Pearl Harbor.  I was the only one going from Chungking to U S via India and Egypt after the World War II because my passage was all arranged when the Japanese surrendered in September 1945. The rest of my family went back to Shanghai, my father included.  Then when the Civil War in China started and Communists took over, part of our family left Shanghai again and went to Hong Kong and Taiwan while many others remained under the Communists rule.

For the twenty years after the forming of People’s Republic of China on the mainland, I was almost totally out of touch with our relatives there.  Only after I came back to live in Hong Kong did I meet any long lost relatives.  One was Uncle Snowball’s eldest son William who was on the way to the U S; the other was Cousin Fei Xiaotung who came to Hong Kong to give lectures by invitation of Chinese University.  I missed meeting Cousin Charles’ son Qiduan when he went through Hong Kong.  Little by little, I began to learn about the happenings to my relatives during that period especially through the Cultural Revolution.

Uncle Snowball moved his practice to Beijing in 1951 and became one of the chief architects of the Beijing City Planning Council.  He played an important part in the design of the “Ten Grand Landmark Buildings” in Beijing in 1959 and was recognized and honored by Premier Chou En-Lai.  

Among the older generation, Uncle Snowball had two sons but only one grandson.  On the side of my eldest uncle, cousin Charles had two sons and cousin Evan had one son, a total of four boys in the fourth generation of the Yang family.  Qiduan is Charles’ older son who went to Canada with the help of Cousin Fei Xiaotung.  He is married and has one daughter.  His younger brother lived in China and had no son.  Evan’s only son Michael went to Australia to study medicine and has been practicing in Brisbane.  He has one son Samuel who is so far the only male descendent in Yang’s fifth generation.