This is a collection of photographs from my mother’s youth. These photos re-surfaced during my grandmother’s recent move and she brought them over for my mother to keep. It sure is fun to compare photos from my mother’s childhood to those of mine and my sister’s, and even moreso now that my sister has a baby girl. I definitely see a resemblance between myself and my mother. I most certainly got her eyes, but the rest of my features seem to be smaller and sharper, more like my father’s.
To put these photos in to context, I’ll give you a brief background of my mother’s history. Loi Tuyet Quan was born in 1960 in Saigon, Vietnam (Today’s Ho Chi Minh City). She was born to a poor couple who’s roots are from Teo Cheow, a city in the East of the Guandong Province of China. Grandmother was a house maid for a wealthy Vietnamese family, and grandfather worked for the same family as a tea maker. My mother is the second of four children, she has two younger sisters, my aunt Cammy (Cam Yee) and my aunt Fong (Fong Yee), and an older brother, my Uncle Jing (Kau Fu). The photos below are all shot in Vietnam sometime between the early 1960s to approximately 1976. The year 1977 was when my mother and my aunt Cammy fled from the Vietnam war. They spent approximately two years running and hosteling in refugee camps in Hong Kong before finally landing on Canadian soil in 1979. A couple years later, they were re-united with the rest of their family- my Grandmother, my aunt Fong and Kau Fu. Grandfather was young when he passed away in Vietnam from illness.
If you’re interested in further reading, I would highly recommend, “The Girl in The Picture: The Story of Kim Phuc, Who’s Image Altered the Course of the Vietnam War.” by Denise Chong. As the title states, it is the story of Kim Phuc whom at age 9 was severely burned by napalm during an attack on South Vietnam; and about the iconic photograph which has immortalized that moment. The book documents the details and politics behind the war, giving the reader a glance at the life of a child growing up during the Vietnam war and how drastically her life had changed being a victim of it.
Okay! So the photos! I might have played around with a couple of them, mainly to improve clarity. The photos are really lovely the way they are, so I didn’t want to mess around with them too much…But because they are photographs of photographs from my phone-camera, they needed a little touching up! Also, I was originally going to try to put them in chronological order, but that proved to be far too challenging, so I gave up and they are not in any particular order!
Enjoy! Vui thích! (please correct me if I’m using the wrong version of Enjoy! I apologize if this is the same Enjoy! as Bon Apetit! :P)
Mama before 10-ish?
Slight retouch with a little sharpening and toning
Teenage mom (note the 70’s flipped hair) with friend
Mama is probably 14-15? I just love the scalloping detail on these old photographs
Rad kids with ombre sunnies at the beach. Mama is on the right with the cap and mod-era minidress. It’s the late 60’s. On the left is a friend, Chicken-girl I think. (See below)
Retouched brightness and contrast
They call her “Chicken-girl” because apparently her father owned a chicken farm. She was the wealthy badass fashionista punk kid who had the all coolest accessories and even more sass.
Chicken-girl sharpened and brightened
Cute mom sitting on a rock at the beach. Mid 60’s
This photo was really challenging to work with. It’s quite blurry to start with but I love the softness from the exposure of the sun
A lanky early-teen photo of mom in a mod mini dress with symmetrical shapes and a strange Mexican looking hat?
I just had to play around with this one a little! There are very few photos of youth-mom in colour!
Late 70’s. This must have been just a year or two before mama fled from the Vietnam war. She’s looking supa foxy in her bellbottoms and sunnies, and check out that hair! Sooo 70’s!
Aunt Fong in her early 20’s looked identical to mama in this picture
I honestly have no idea who the other girls are. Probably classmates since they look like they are in uniform. Mom didn’t do a lot of school though. As the eldest girl in the family, her responsibilities surrounded caring for her younger sisters and helping her mother, my grandmother with chores and errands. She was also far more interested in working than in going to school. I don’t blame her!
Sharpened for detail, but of course that means speckles.
I’m not sure what happened to this photo that it got all wrinkly, but the gridlines were drawn in because an artist wanted to draw a portrait of her. Apparently it never got done though. Guess he must have kept the photo in his pocket for a while, that would explain the wrinkles!
Zoom-in and slight retouch of the wrinkly photo. I love this one so much!
The couple at the top left of the photo are NOT my grandmother and grandfather. I think they are the neighbours. I wonder what the sign in the back says…
I’ve labelled Mom, Aunt Cammy and Aunt Fong. Not sure who the other kids are…
Mama at the rich neighbour’s house. Mama and her family were dirt poor but grandmother made friends with everybody so mom and her sisters played with the rich neighbour’s kids and were often invited over for supper when there wasn’t enough to eat at their own house. Our family has been so blessed to have received such grace and kindness from those neighbours. They aren’t exactly neighbours anymore (they live in Georgia and Detroit now) but they are most certainly still dear friends, thanks to grammy, and the kids will still play together, for generations to come.
School photo. Can you spot my mama?
Found ya! And your cute little overbite hahaa
Mama looking supa-fly in her late teens. I love the burnt edges
Check out those high-waisted bell-bottoms! And I’d die for those oversized ombre sunnies!
Move over, Spice Girls!
Chicken-girl (2nd from the left) is most definitely the Sporty Spice. Not sure about the others though. lol
Looks like somebody hit their growth-spurt. My poor mama looks like a lanky elf. I had to keep this one though, just because it’s one of the few that we have in colour! And check out the blue-tin butter cookies.. Royal Dansk circa 1977. Everybody kept their cash in those blue tins! Mama didn’t have any.. this was definitely the neighbour’s house!
Lanky mama retouched. I want to say the girl to the right is Aunt Fong, but i’m not 100% posi
Look at those lips! I definitely got her pout! Her hair is so 70’s disco era… I love it!
My eyes are your eyes
Supa fly mama again with a friend.
Cute elfy looking mama in her school girl uniform
I looked very much like this when I was 6 or 7
I absolutely love this photo. It’s so soft and dreamy. Mama is wearing what looks like a casual version of traditional Vietnamese apparel. She must be on the terrace at a rich neighbour’s house with that wicked view in the background!
Ahhh soo hard to work with! I tried my best here. Loving the tropical plants too!
Another photo of my mom in her later-teenage years with the bellbottoms and blazer. I’m pretty sure they were all taken together, I just mixed up the order….
This is one of my absolute favourite photos in the set. I think it’s the placement and composition of this photo that I love so much. In the front are mama (right) and my auntie Fong (left) soaking up the sun on the beach. I wish there were more photos from this day because I want to know what’s going on with the people in the background!
Wild child in the back! Mama and Fong look totes adorbs though!
Another fave! I know! They just keep getting better! My very young mama with a friend.
Sharpened and toned.
If I could graph the resemblance of facial features between my mother and myself across time, this is where the lines would intersect. She looks about 7-8 in this photo and when I was that age, I looked identical. I wish I had a photo of myself from grade 3, this was me.
This is the closest my mother and I have ever looked alike. After that, our features became more defined and our lines ran their own courses:P
Young mama on a motor bike
Brightened and toned
Early 70’s .
I decided to get a little creative with this one.. haha. After toning and sharpening the image, I realized that there was a burning candle in the foreground. Pretty neat! Then I imagined the colour of my mom’s dress and did a VERY LAZY selective colouring, mint is the colour of the season!
Late 60’s to early 70’s.
I saved the best for last! Mama is looking super adorable (Chu bi Ai See!) in this Jackie-O babydoll dress!
It’s most definitely a creamy yellow dress. I’m just too lazy to reduce the saturation of the colouring to match the rest of the image. It looks a bit neon.. oh well.