Mississippi Delta Chinese

Life in Chinese Grocery Stores

Chinese Family Life

           More Chinese grocers began to start families, or bring families over from China, around the 1920s. Families often were large, as with the Pangs of Marks, Ms., which provided much needed extra help in running their stores when they got older.  All family members worked to contribute to their success.


              Work was demanding, as stores had long hours everyday of the week, but extended families found time to get together for dinners, parties, celebrations as shown in the Mee Jon store in Greenville. The store also served as a place for grocery families to have living quarters in the back.


        The Chow family of Clarksdale was featured in a New York Times article about how the Gilroy and Sally Chow family adapted traditional Chinese style cooking to blend with the styles and foods available in the Delta.

Chinese "Community Association"

     As the number of Chinese in the Delta increased, they needed a place where large social gatherings could be held for celebrations such as weddings, birthday parties, and other meetings including funerals.  In an excerpt from my hour long video interview in 2008  with the irrepressible Lynn 'Pap' Pang, in his late 90's, he explained how an ad hoc group of Chinese community leaders bought a vacant building near Clarksdale from KBH Corp. (a local farm implement manufacturer) in the early 1970s to provide a place for social gatherings of the Chinese community. He recounted how they acquired and renovated the property, identified some of the Chinese community leaders, and described some of the large events held there with over 1,000.

Some 'sponsors' would donate funds for food and drinks for an event. It was a cooperative effort where some setup tables and chairs, others cooked meals using large woks fashioned from large steel drums, and others served or helped clean up.  Everyone had a chance to have a grand meal, play mah jong, even a card game, or just sit around and catch up on happenings around the Delta. A brief summary at the end of the video was offered by Gilroy Chow, husband of Pap's niece, Sally Chow.


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