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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

Our circle of friends in Washington grows

Lu Lu and I made friends every time we went to a party. A Chinese-Burmese friend invited us to his wedding. At the wedding we met the U San Lins. Mr. U San Lin was very well known in the Burmese society. Before the military government he was the central bank manager of Burma. When the military government took over Burma, Mr. U San Lin came to Washington and worked for the IMF. At the wedding, Mr. U San Lin's wife, Sally, became very friendly with Lu Lu. Later we were invited to their home. From then on our friendship became very close. For 18 years U San Lin worked with the IMF. He traveled to many different countries for the IMF because he was a financial consultant. Whatever country he went to he would always send me a postcard. Because of Mr. U San Lin I became a postcard collector. At this time I have postcards from 100 different countries.

World Bank in Washington, D.C. 
World Bank in Washington, D.C.

Over the years the U San Lin family became like part of my family. Mrs. Sally San Lin was a delightful person. She was a very down to earth and a sincere friend. Sally was very fond of gambling. We shared many enjoyable days at poker tables, horse races and the casino in Atlantic City. Whenever Sally won she would always share her winnings with her friends around her. She was very generous and always there to help a friend.

The U San Lins would always have parties in their house, and had so many friends with all kinds of nationalities that there was always something going on in their house. Lu Lu was always very helpful to Sally whenever she had parties going on in her house. For this Sally was very thankful to Lu Lu and always arranged a day for them to spend at the casino. Whatever I could do for them around the house I was always willing to help. I was always well thought of financially by the U San Lins.

Mr. U San Lin was a very quiet man. Sometimes I went to their home and U San Lin was all by himself, I always enjoyed talking to him about economy and finances. By talking to him I learned a lot and he could put you at ease if you were worried about certain things.

Through the U San Lins we made even more friends. We met some interesting people from the World Bank, Diplomats from Embassies and people who had traveled all over the world. There were many young doctors who had left Burma to start a new life in the U.S.A. Most of them settled in the Baltimore area. At that time there was a shortage of doctors in this country and many hospitals would sponsor foreign doctors to come and work in this country. Some of those foreign doctors were even getting their fare paid for. Once they got here the hospital took care of their housing also. Lu Lu and I met several of the Burmese doctors who came here that way and became our very good friends. We took many trips to Baltimore to enjoy their parties. Lu Lu was very well liked by most of the Burmese people she met. Lu Lu was always very generous and would never go empty handed to somebody's home. She became very well known around the Burmese society.

One day Lu Lu went to work and on her way she met an Asian lady who came from South Vietnam. Lu Lu invited her to come and visit us in our apartment. A week later she came to visit us and told us her name was Kim and she was the wife of the chef of the South Vietnamese Embassy. Kim was a delightful lady and in no time we became very good friends. We were invited at the South Vietnamese Embassy and we met Kim's husband, Mr. Chau. Mr. Chau and Kim came to America with the first Ambassador who was appointed by the South Vietnamese Diem Government. Ambassador Tran Van Khiem was the man who brought Mr. Chau and Kim along to be his personal chef in the Embassy in Washington. Ambassador Tran Van Khiem was the father of Madame Nu. We met the Ambassador and his wife several times. They were highly cultured and delightful people. The Ambassador's wife was very fond of Lu Lu. Even after he resigned his post as Ambassador due to his sympathy for the Buddhist riots in South Vietnam against the war, the Ambassador's wife invited Lu Lu several times to her residence.

Mr. Chau was such a well-known chef at the South Vietnamese Embassy that he served for several Ambassadors during his 16 years of service at the Embassy. Mr. Chau even had the honor to serve President Eisenhower during a party at the South Vietnamese Embassy. Mr. Chau and Kim became our best friends for years to come. Mr. Chau and Kim occupied all of the lower level of the Embassy where there was a huge kitchen and some living quarters. The entrance was from a side door. Through Mr. Chau and Kim's friendship we met a lot of their Vietnamese friends. On weekends Mr. Chau's living quarters became a gathering for all the domestic help who worked in the Washington area for American families. Most of them would only have Sundays off, and the only place they could meet some of their country people was at Mr. Chau's residence. Somehow Mr. Chau and Kim didn't mind having all those people around on weekends. They would all cook and work together. It always looked like a big happy family. You could tell they really enjoyed each other. I felt so at home at Mr. Chau's place that I would stop there on my way home from work. I would park my car in front of the Embassy, and walk right into the kitchen where Mr. Chau was always busy preparing some dishes for a party. I was always received like I was his son. He would always give me one of the best drinks the Embassy had in the house. Vietnamese combined entrees of the day. Mr. Chau came from the old capital of Hue. As I was told by some Vietnamese, the best cooks came from there. It was always a delight to meet Mr. Chau. He was very charming and warm with people, and somehow was a ladies man. He had some kind of charm that attracted the ladies to him.

CONTINUED: Our South Vietnamese Friends
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
- Washington, D.C.
- Southeast Asia
- Philosophy of Life

- Book Index