baby Alison:Grandpa, Grandma says you were born and raised in New York City.
SLE:Yes, I was born at St. Claire’s Hospital in the middle of Hell’s Kitchen on a hot summer day in August. My Mom really suffered. She was so big that they thought that I was going to be twins. As it was I was over 9 pounds.
baby Alison:How long did you live in New York?
SLE:I actually lived in different parts of the city up until the mid 1980’s. After graduating from La Salle Junior High School in 1963, I attended The Bronx High School of Science. Midway through high school my family moved to Queens. In 1966, I started at CCNY and graduated with a BS in chemical engineering five years later. While at CCNY I met your Grandma on a blind date. When we were first married we lived in Brooklyn. After your daddy, David, was born we relocated to a larger apartment in Queens. Uncle Christopher arrived about four years later. By the mid 1980’s we started thinking about and did move upstate to Rockland County in order to take advantage of the school district’s educational opportunities.
baby Alison:It says here that prior to graduating from CCNY, you were known as Stanley Lee and not Stanley Lee Eng.
SLE:As with many Chinese immigrants to the US, my parents entered with purchased papers. Their “paper name” became Lee. My parents eventually became naturalized citizens and, at that time, easily changed their name to Eng. I, however, was still a Lee. Before graduating from college, I decided to change my name legally to Eng so that my diploma would show my correct family name. I retained the Lee in the middle for convenience.
baby Alison:Grandpa, did you ever work as an engineer. What happened? Did you change your mind?
SLE:1971 was a very bad year if you were a graduating engineer looking for employment. To give you an idea as to how bad it was: in a normal year, my chemical engineering class of35 graduates should have had about 200 job offers between us; we had 5; 3 belonged to the number one graduate.
baby Alison:So, what did you do?
SLE:As a result, I ended up working full time at the service station where I had been working the previous summer and working part time while in school. I eventually went from pump jockey to grease monkey to auto mechanic to station manager. In late 1972, Grandma and I were married and I started my next job as an elevator maintenance mechanic. We actually did more trouble shooting than maintenance.
baby Alison: That sounds kind of dangerous !
SLE:Actually, it was. I also made the mistake of taking Grandma with me when I was on call one Sunday. She was not too thrilled with the working conditions. She was less happy when I was hurt on the job and lost part of my left middle finger. She was ecstatic when I decided to accept an offer to work for a frozen seafood wholesaler as general manager.
baby Alsion:It appears that you’ve had a very eclectic work history so far.
SLE:I actually had another small stint in elevators before two other frozen seafood companies. During my last frozen seafood chapter, I decided that I needed to find something less physical and not in a freezer. I graduated from the Gemological Institute of America with a graduate gemologist degree in 1989 and went to work with another form of ice in the diamond trade.
baby Alison:What happens next ?
SLE:I don’t know. For now, I’m just enjoying my family and friends, old, new, and rediscovered. Grandma is on her 16th year as an occupational therapist at a local hospital and is looking forward to retiring and having the time she needs to pursue her love of quilting. Your daddy is a chemical engineer who works for Kraft Foods, and your mommy, Beckey is busy with you! Uncle Christopher is a branch manager for Enterprise Rent A Car in Maryland. My circle of friends and I are trying to cope with the inevitable aging process. In 2003 I reconnected with my junior high school classmates and we’ve had a reunion each year since. Without the internet we probably never would have pulled it off.
baby Alison:Sounds like a lot of fun Grandpa.
SLE:Yes, a lot of reminiscing about the “good old days” and such. It’s amazing how things change and yet they remain the same.
baby Alison:Thank you, Grandpa, for helping me understand our family history.