Ate dinner last night with two of my sisters at a Seattle Chinese restaurant -- Tai Tung -- and found out that it's been continuously open since 1935. I doubt they've updated the interior since then. What an odd, funky place it is. I first ate there 40 years ago, and nothing -- NOT A THING -- has changed. The daily specials are written up in Chinese on typing paper and taped to the mirror behind the counter -- there are probably twenty specials posted. The English version is farther down the hall, taped to the outside of a booth. There's a musty scent interlaced with the amalgamated Chinese Restaurant Scents -- ginger? Soy? Rice? Our waiter was perhaps 80, nattily attired in black slacks, a white dress shirt and sweater, and with a heavy accent gave recommendations from the specials board. He claimed to remember us -- it's been at least a year, since the three of us ate there last -- but I don't doubt him. The lighting is startling bright, and the absence of any music makes it an eavesdropping heaven, although I'd venture to say that the conversation between the three of us made for some good listening for someone else, if anyone else felt so inclined.
At one point in the meal, I read aloud a hand-written letter from 1972 that my sister K. wrote to me when I spent two weeks with a friend at her grandparent's house in Twisp -- a rural town in Eastern Washington. Written on neon yellow notebook paper in my sister's precise eleven-year-old's handwriting, it described in detail a tiff she'd gotten into with another sister over the throwing-away of a wire twisty-thing that closes up a loaf of bread. Drama! Another description of a boat trip to Victoria B.C., and the joy in the freedom of being allowed to wander freely aboard the Princess Marguerite.
I produced a second letter (both plucked randomly from my recent excavations) written by the other sister present -- M. -- typed from her desk at her job at Boeing, written the same week as K.'s letter, describing, among other things, K.'s day-trip to Victoria! I don't know what the odds are that I'd grab two letters -- from a load of crap primarily headed to the recycling bin -- that date back to the same week in 1972. And trust me, these were in boxes of assorted paper stuff dating in my history from age zero to twenty. No organization other that the fact that it was all made of paper.
And based on the laughs that these letters generated, I'm glad I save them. My question now, of course is whether or not to throw them out. Neither sister wanted her letter back. Toss?
Among my findings was a sackful of school assignments belonging to K. of which I somehow gained possession. Good sport that she is, she promptly donned her "Best Rester" crown from kindergarten:
The waiter's handwriting on the bill both fascinated and amused me -- was that really what we ordered?!
And who could possibly argue over such stunningly beautiful hieroglyphics? Certainly not us. Dinner at Tai Tung is always a bargain, musty odor notwithstanding.
And I have for lunch today some lovely leftover sizzling rice soup.