You know you've been living in the San Gabriel Valley for a long time when...

Photos of the San Gabriel Valley | Photos (clockwise from top left) by Zeetz Jones, Sam Howzit, InSapphoWeTrust, and buncheduptv1Photos of the San Gabriel Valley | Photos (clockwise from top left) by Zeetz Jones, Sam Howzit, InSapphoWeTrust, and buncheduptv

I grew up in Redondo Beach and lived in West Los Angeles and Sherman Oaks before moving to Alhambra 20 years ago. Since then, I have noticed some unique aspects of life in the SGV. Some of these characteristics were similar to those of my Asian upbringing, but some were new to me as I gradually became a longtime "626" resident. Here is a list of some of the things that have become a part of my life in the SGV:

You know you've been living in the San Gabriel Valley for a long time when...

1. It doesn't seem unusual when you see an Asian woman driving a car and wearing a white glove that goes up to her elbow. Often, she is also wearing an oversized sun visor with a tinted plastic sunshade shielding most of her face. (A few years ago, a visiting friend saw a woman wearing such a glove and asked me if it was because she was a fan of Michael Jackson. Nope.)

2. Off the top of your head, you know the location of at least three Sam Woo restaurants.

3. You automatically assume that anyone with the last name of “Lee” is Asian. (I exchanged numerous emails with a co-worker with the last name of Lee, and I was surprised when I met her for the first time that she was African American.)

4. You have a hankering for a corned beef sandwich and know that finding a good Jewish deli means going west on the 10 Freeway. Sorry, no sweet and sour pastrami on pan fried rye bread on the menu here.

5. You go to the Cheesecake Factory for a meal and it feels a little like exotic dining. What? No chopsticks? No soy sauce? And the waiters are attentive?

6. You enter a home and your first instinct is to take off your shoes.

7. You are offended that you have to pay for tea at a restaurant. You have been spoiled and have grown to expect complimentary tea and refills when dining.

8. Friends tells you that their teenage son or daughter is playing soccer, taking violin and piano lessons, volunteering at the senior center, competing on the math team, taking three Advanced Placement classes, participating in student government, and maintaining a 4.5 GPA. They add that they feel their child is an underachiever, and you agree.

9. You doubt the quality of any Chinese restaurant whose patrons are not at least 80% Asian. Also, the restaurant's Health Department letter grade is irrelevant.

10. When you can correctly pronounce "pho," know what it means, and know the significance of the numbers that follow it, i.e. Pho 79.

Have something to add to the list? Submit it in the comments section below!

About the author: Joe Soong

Joe has been an Alhambra resident for more than 15 years and appreciates the city's diversity. He feels Alhambra is unique and would like learn more of its stories and share it with Alhambra Source readers. He works in local government in labor relations.

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Kyle Garcia

The one about the Cheescake factory being exotic and having to pay for tea ... LOL

I still remember Monterey Park being an 'Atlantic' "area code" --- our phone number was : AT 20524. But Really Long Timers (i've lived here for more than 60 years, graduated Mark Keppel in 1965) should remember SEEING the 710 and 60 Freeways built ! And, the more than 50 year DEBATE over Completing the 710 ! That, Plus : basically No Asians whatsoever lived here then !!! So, the China Doll on Valley and Wong's Garden on Main were the ONLY 'Asian' Restaurants in the Entire SGV, once ! Horribly Americanized, a True Chinese Dining Experience was ONLY to be found in Downtown 'Chinatown' then ! That, plus being cited in Both TIME & NEWSWEEK Magazines as being America's First Urban Chinatown --- when we elected the First Chinese Mayor of a 'major' American City --- that it was a Woman, who spoke 'Broken English' only added to 'the significance' and the ORIGINALLY Conservative Republican Majority of 'whites' back-lashed with ATTEMPTING to make all Business Signs be IN English --- and the 'white flight' began --- with a plethora of Residents having bumper stickers that proclaimed : "I survived driving in Monterey Park !" Then, too --- Atlantic Blvd., essentially from Hellman South till Montebello was basically All Green Pasture Land, along its West-Side --- peeps riding Motorcycles and Horses along that long stretch of Open Land ! Many 'things' have changed over the years !

But you really have not been living in the "626" that long unless you also remember it being the "818" or the "213" and before that just the "Atlantic Exchange", (AT1-xxxx)... And you know why they is a statute of an overweight Caucasian boy in red overalls inside Noodle World!

But very funny all the same!

Lucy Truong

Hah!  Agreed, I was born in the 818, mostly raised in the 626.  I still remember my 818 Rosemead phone number!

haha!

I like it.

You know you've been living in the San Gabriel Valley for a long time when...

1. You see a car that isn't a Honda or Toyota

2. You don't find Alhambra Costco the crazy experience anymore...even though it is

3. You can't imagine living anywhere else. It would be too much of a culture shock.

4. You remember all the debates over the decades about "closing the gap", and nothing ever happens. hehe

Hilarious!!! And unfortunately I can relate to most of them.... LOL!!!

Michael Lawrence

You are very funny as usual Joe. Very enjoyable read.

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