Neighbor of the Month – September 2014

We are delighted to introduce you to Mrs. Lau Wong Svi Ching as part of our “Neighbor of the Month” series-an effort started last November to highlight Elysian Valley residents. It is our sincere hope that doing so contributes in some fashion to better know one another, build, grow and appreciate the make-up of our community.  The NW thanks Mrs. Lau and her family for their contribution to Elysian Valley. 


Mrs. Lau Wong Svi Ching was born in 1924 in China.  She and her husband (Lau Tat Ming) settled in Elysian Valley in 1969.  Together they have seven (7) children, twelve (12) grandchildren and three (3) great grandchildren.  Mrs. Lau met her husband of 65 years on her wedding day.  Their wedding was prearranged and neither the groom nor bride to be had any choice or say in the matter.  “I had no choice but to like him”, says Mrs. Lau.  Years later, her husband confessed having somehow managed an early peak at his bride to be.  She lives on Harwood St. in the same home originally purchased in 1970 for $20K.

Not entirely satisfied with work in a family owned restaurant in Ontario, CA, Mr. Lau commuted between Hong Kong and the US from 1971-1985—spending ½ a year in each location—earning  a living in the herbs industry via mail order sales.   Mrs. Lau worked for Meilee Sewing on Hill St. , in China Town, and retired in 1988. She was paid by the piece count approximately 34 cents per pc and recalls bringing work home to maximize her earnings with the help of her children.   “This was not work that I liked, but it was necessary to help support my family”, says Mrs. Lau.  Her sacrifice has proven fruitful in the present success of her children and would not change a thing if having to do it all over, says Mrs. Lau.

She remembers those early years in EV as “free”— her children able to safely play outside.  She recalls the area being covered in trees with plenty of open space and made up of diverse ethnic backgrounds.  She remembers the frogs that overwhelmed the area but she too has memories of “crawfish” emerging from the LA River after a rainstorm.

When asked what she likes most about Elysian Valley, she points to its great location, its proximity to Chinatown, area safety and friendly people.  She likes the improvements made to the bike path but dislikes the disregard speeding cyclists have for pedestrian safety.  While she welcomes increased River attention, she wishes more resources were dedicated to improve the general neighborhood.  She has seen her neighbors injured from falls resulting from uprooted sidewalks and poorly lit streets.

She is enjoying all facets of her golden years but none more than the time spent with her family.  This includes meeting for dinner at least once a month at either CBS or Golden City restaurants in China town with her entire family.  Mrs. Lau wants to be remembered as a caring loving mother and friend.   In Elysian Valley she is home and happy.