Everybody knew Mr. Chin. I’m not special. I cursed and spat with fury like you did. This is a man who had an unusual impact on our lives. He was brave and sensible, present, and endearing. He was also a man of learning, always there for Chinatown with his knowledge.
One day, there was a real good old samurai photo in a frame for sale in the store that I wanted to buy, despite being a little expensive for me. Mr. Chin, knowing me, could see why I wanted it. It even made him a little sad, but he agreed to hold it while I made some payments. My mother recalls how I struggled to hold onto it when I didn’t have a place to live, insisting on stowing it in her small office closet. For years, it hung over my desk, so I thought about Mr. Chin from time to time.
When I first read about Donnie Chin and then met him, I remembered that when I was very little, I used to scare easily. Because it got me into trouble, I have always known that I was not very brave and wished that I was. I never wanted to be a soldier, although I look up to veterans. I have always thought soldiering a bit much. Seeing Mr. Chin in his hobby as a volunteer at all the Hing Hay Park parties and ceremonies, I thought to myself, that is who I would want to be like, for Donnie Chin was a brave and sensible man.
I cannot accept what happened. I know that cynicism is understandable sometimes, but when a young person on the margins decides to undermine the I-thou relationship, I feel it is proper to do so with the goal of making yourself the best person you can be, not to take down something you can never be. It was a terrible mistake. I ask again, if there is a witness, please step forward.
If you have young people not old enough to have known him but old enough to appreciate and love Chinatown, be so good as to say who he was. We all lost a role model.
— Mac Crary
Former ID resident, visiting from Pittsburgh