洛杉磯培正同學會校友來稿

The Inaugural Table Tennis Tournament of LAPCAA - A Personal Perspective
By Lau Woon-Mun (劉煥文), Class of '62
September 4, 2011
Fullerton, California

Preamble

While in Hong Kong a summer ago, I met a lady owner of a nursing home, who told me she sent one of her maids to a sports club nearby her home every evening, to feed her husband ping pong balls to hit for an hour or two. I asked why the effort. She responded that table tennis is the best "brain sport" that would slow down "aging", the sign of which may soon surface, as she worried, in her husband's daily routines.

Once home, I began to read more on the benefits of playing table tennis. Soon after I came across such article as the one posted in:

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/brain-ping-pong/story?id=12721610

I decided to play the game regularly again, despite its absence among my physical activities for over thirty years. In fact, since July last year, I've been looking forward to playing the game every Sunday evening, in a Diamond Bar community center, a convenient proximity of mere 12 minutes of driving from my home.

Therefore, the announcement of the tournament, in an email from President Norman Wong (黃文輝) to the entire membership of LAPCAA, was timely and most welcome. I signed up for the tournament via email to Ann Tang (唐安仁) almost immediately.

The Tournament

The morning of Sunday, August 28, saw the arrivals of players, spouses as well as Norman at the Walnut Gym by about 9 a.m.: C. K. Lee 李捷锦 (1972), Robert Chu 朱業成 (1972), Polin Han 楊波玲 (1960); George Lai 黎民宗 (1955); Jessica Yu, Spouse of Albert Yee 余凡 (1962), Donald Tong 唐冬明 (1961), Ann Tang Wang 唐安仁 (1960), and William Lau 劉煥文 (1962).

After warmly introducing ourselves with each other, we gathered to listen to Ann Tang (唐安仁), the chief executive officer (CEO) of the event, on rules and regulations of the tournament -- ( “Thou shalt throw the ball six inches above thy palm, when serving .....”). Ann set a semi-serious tone for the tournament, as she should, but she articulated all items with a warmest smile.

With the help of her attentive husband, King, who proudly presented himself as “培正姑爺” to everyone, Ann came up with an elaborate and fair scheme to run the show. Since she had no prior knowledge of our ability, she paired us up by random draw, not by "seeding" any specific player or players.

The eight participants drew their numbers to form four pairs for immediate competition. The two winners of the first two consecutive matches, plus the winner of the six remaining players, would then play round-robin among themselves to determine the final standing. Many close and exciting matches would soon follow, with every winner of a match accepting warm congratulations from their gracious opponents. Infused with Pui Ching's Red/Blue spirit, the players and audiences took great delight in playing or watching the matches throughout.

Robert Chu朱業成 (1972), undefeated in all his matches, emerged as the Champion of LAPCAA's inaugural table tennis tournament. William Lau 劉煥文 (1962) came in second, with his loss to Robert, and Donald Tong 唐冬明 (1961) third, with losses to the two. George Lai 黎民宗 (1955) deserves Honorable Mention for having very competitive games against some of the top players above.

The Luncheon to Follow

The luncheon to follow at the Seafood Village in Rowland Heights turned out to be as delightful as the tournament itself. Surely I know of Norman Wong, but I never get to talk with him until this time. Neither had I met anyone else on the table, with the exception of Albert (余凡) and Jessica. Yet, we all felt so comfortable with each other, endlessly laughing, joking and chatting away at the table, as if we have known each other all our lives. In retrospect, I must attribute such bonding to the commonality of our learning and life experience at Pui Ching through those formative (thus our most impressionable and precious) years.

Stories and episodes were exchanged at the table, of many of our beloved teachers: 單倫理﹐ 劉茂華, 李信標﹐ 梅修偉﹐ 梁寶嫻﹐ 劉彩恩﹐ 朱達三﹐ 林天蔚﹐ 關存英, ...... A special “Blast from the Past” was suddenly mentioned by Ann Tang -- “Fatty Boy Fung” ! -- Oh My Lord – Ann, C’mon, you can’t be serious !

“Fatty”, (or should I call him “Obese-seus”, which rhymes with Odysseus, to make him sound Greek and thus more dignified) – was a Joke! He was the math teacher of my Junior High II class in spring ’58, and he couldn’t even do the easy problems in algebra and geometry. I recall one episode vividly:

Fatty Boy Fung was trying to work on a simple algebra problem on the board, while Principal Ho (何宗頤校長) stood outside the classroom watching through the window. At one point in time, he tensed up totally, his face reddening and his hand fidgeting nervously with a piece of chalk. He turned frozen and remained speechless for a few minutes, while the class was buzzing with words as some kids tried to suggest hints to solve the problem. After Principal Ho left, he yelled at the class for having made so much noise that both unnerved, and confused him. Fatty lasted only one semester at Pui Ching, never to be seen nor heard from again, till this luncheon. What a surprise!

We also heard stories on post-PC lives of some teachers: 關存英, 梅修偉, 劉彩恩, ...... We sighed deeply, for the imagined plight of Teacher Chu's wife. The poor lady had to hand-wash all those carefully-folded handkerchiefs, embedded in each of which must be at least “three layers" of Mr. Chu’s treasured "spits". It now dawns on me too, that Teacher Chu might have had those "layers" in his mind, when he decided to change his birth name (from whatever that was) to “ 達三” -- Name changing was quite a common practice for Chinese males in those days, as we all know.

Perhaps a personal story from Ann Tang (唐安仁) merits its repetition here.

Surely we’ve all heard from sermons or hymns before, that one day when we face Our Lord alone, in heaven or In the Garden①, we shall feel great joy, comfort, euphoria, serenity ….. etc. Well, Ann had indeed faced a “lord” alone, while at Pui Ching. He was our most beloved, most admired, and at times most fearsome Principal Ho (何宗頤校長). Ann did not see him In the Garden①. She faced him at the “Spiral”. She didn’t experience those great feelings above. “Great panic”, was how she felt at heart.

After Ann lost to classmates in some games they played, she had the obligation to buy food items, of winners’ choices, from a neighborhood store right by PC campus. Class instructions had already begun. While climbing the "Spiral" on her way back to the classroom, the hapless Ann found herself alone, face-to-face with Principal Ho, who (probably) scowled menacingly – “Hey, why am I seeing you here?”– Ann, shaken and shaking (most certainly), hurried to stuff all those food items into her pocket, - one of which, thanks to a thoughtful buddy, was an (melting) ice cream pops!

The luncheon at Seafood Village started at around 11:30 am, and we parted, quite reluctantly, sometime after 1:30 pm. I had such a wonderful time that I accepted Norman's request, without hesitation, to write up something to commemorate the inaugural table tennis tourney, as well this most joyful day.

Time to Say Thank You

I'd like to take the opportunity here to extend Norman (黃文輝) my gratitude for his spearheading of various projects to invigorate LAPCAA, among them: this inaugural tournament of table tennis, the celebration of the forthcoming Mid-Autumn Festival, not to mention the development of bylaws for LAPCAA, a serious and arduous undertaking that will surely consume much of Norman’s time and effort for months to come.

Needless to say, I must thank Ann (唐安仁) and her husband King Wang, for being such warm, dedicated and tireless hosts/organizer of a very successful tournament.

A hearty congratulation goes to our great champion, Robert Chu (朱業成), so does a personal message:

Watch out, Robert! Now that more players from LAPCAA will learn of this fun-filled tournament, winning the championship next year -- Ain't Not Goin’ to be No "Cakewalk" No More!

(With apology to our esteemed 劉彩恩老師, an outstanding teacher of English grammar, also the stern yet much beloved “class master” of my Junior High III class at Pui Ching ……)

Notes

① In the Garden - a classic hymn (to listen to a version of it, click here)