The Eleventh Orchid

Prolog

Serene Lăng Cô, Vietnam Coastline

Serene Lăng Cô, Vietnam Coastline

The following memoirs about the Le Tien family was recalled by Le Tien’s eleventh child from her memory and stories told by her mother, relatives and friends. This book of memoirs was written to retain memories and profiles as proofs for the family’s tradition of culture and kindness. Reading the book will allow all the family’s descendants to access and learn more about their tradition and origin, resulting in helpful lessons which can be applied to everyday life.

It is the same for all times, building a family always needs: heart, self-reliance, knowledge, talent and dignity.

Memoirs of LE TIEN by Le Thi Kim Thoa, the Eleventh Orchid and Author

October 2012, Hanoi

Mr. Le Tien was born in 1895 in Thai Phu, Vu Tien, Thai Binh and died on the eleventh day

Le Thi Kim Thoa, the 11th child

Le Thi Kim Thoa, the 11th child

of the third month of 1948 (based on the lunar calendar) at Con market, Hai Hau, Nam Dinh

His father was Le Van Thuy – a merchant who traded fabrics and his mother was Le Thi Dang – a farmer who worked dedicatedly on sericulture and weaving fabrics

Le Tien was the first child of the family and he had two younger brothers named Le Van Khue and Le Van Bich who lived and worked in Saigon port.

Memoirs of Le Tien’s life and career

As a smart and resourceful person, Le Tien had come to Hanoi with his father for studying and vocational training since he was 13, or 14 years old. With his smartness and independence, he was able to entered the first course of the Indochina University opened by the French. He had studied well so the French awarded him a special technical book at his graduation and entrusted him to build an ice company on Tran Nhat Duat Street of Hanoi. He worked as

Mr. Le Tien

Mr. Le Tien

the head of department and was granted a house located in front of Ton Dan Street. Here the family gave births to these following children Mr./Ms.: Tan, Tuyet, Thanh, Thai, Tiep, Thu, Thi, Thoa.

Later he opened a store on Quan Thanh street, selling for foreign wines and beverages. His aunt – Mrs. Sau and his older children were the managers of this store.

In 1939, with the desire to develop his knowledge and personal career, Le Tien resigned from the ice company and moved to 13 Son Tay Street, Ba Dinh District to exclusively sell manufactured welding electrodes and plastic electric tapes to The Railway Department of Hanoi.

He also invested in French techniques to produce carbonated soft drink which was rapidly consumed by provincial companies so his production could not meet demand. Then the

Le Tien's General Store and Family. ca 1936

Le Tien’s General Store and Family. ca 1936

family gave births to Thu, Thuy and Than.

In 1944, the General Governor of Indochina was aware of his open mind and came to his home to encourage him to open a brewery company, as there was only one brewery company in Hanoi at that time. However, this plan was halted by the revolution.

In this period of chaos, his family had to evacuate to his hometown of Thai Phu and then relocated to the Con market in Hai Hau. After the unsuccessful return, along with a sorrow caused by the loss of wealth and his previous achievements as well as a burden of many children and more than 20 workers, Mr. Le Tien passed away at the age of 53.

Le Tien Family 1939

Le Tien Family 1939

When he was alive, he had a farm of 7,200 square meters which was the biggest one in his hometown and was solely used for family vacations. The family of his uncle Mr. Huu took care of this farm. After the death of Huu, nobody was there to manage the farm so it was taken over by the government. In addition, he had more houses at 13, 15, 43 Son Tay and a manufacturing factory that ran from the beginning of Pham Tuan (Ong Ich Khiem) Street to the car factory near Ngoc Ha market in an area of over 1,000 square meters. Later when the revolution began, with the enlightenment, his son – Mr. Thai did let the government manage the factory. As the result, the factory was occupied.

Rendering of Le Tien vacation villa, Thai Phu

Rendering of Le Tien vacation villa, Thai Phu

Mr. Le Tien was a pioneer in his day. He achieved so many things in Vietnam at that time. He held French Indochina driving license number 002 and was the first Vietnamese to ride a motorbike and buy a car in 1934.

Mr. Le Tien was also a nature and travelling lover, he liked to learn about the outside world.

Mr. Le was the first Vietnanese to buy a car in 1934

Mr. Le was the first Vietnanese to buy a car in 1934

Every year he took his wife and children to different touristic sites in the country.

He was rich in kindness. The famine in 1945 killed many people from his company. He offered free porridges every day to wandering people, especially who came from his and his wife hometown. Many of the survivors later gratefully welcomed his family each time they saw his car heading to Co Le village.

During the occupation by the Chinese army (1945), there was an officer who was jealous with a Vietnamese that kept exchanging money with girls on the neighborhood so that officer hung that man and beat him with rifle butt to near death. To save him, Le Tien asked for intervention from the government to free this Vietnamese and then he succeeded and was forever appreciated.

In brief, Le Tien was a talented person with strong will. He had great a self-built career and nice traditional Eastern Asian family that were built on the basis of absorbing the Western lifestyle. He hated drinking alcohol and playing cards, it was unacceptable for his children and employees to play cards after the third day of each new lunar year.

He had wide relationships with many social classes such as Son Phung Giay Cuong label in Hang Da market, famous Dong Luong sweet soup, Han Bich family on 11 Hang Ma, Tan An pastries on Gia Long Street (Tran Hung Dao) which was also his wife’s family.

It was a pity for a person like that to die so soon with many uncompleted intentions and a lack of time to train successors. None of his sons continued the handed down family career because of their excitements for the revolution.  (“People’s Revolution” ~ 1945 – 1954) Mr. Tuoc was the only son who was similar to him in terms of business potential however he was incompatible with his father.

In 1950, the family returned to Hanoi. The Railway Department came back to order manufactured welding electrodes as well as plastic electric tapes but nobody could take over the handed down career. This technique was lost after unsuccessful tries of Tuyet and her husband.

This valuable French book of technique had lost its value.

Memoirs of LUONG THI THE

Mrs. Luong Thi The was born in 1903 and died on the sixteenth day of the fourth month ofLuong Thi 1985 (based on the lunar calendar) at number 16 of Son Tay Street. She was born in Ngoc Lang Village, My Hao District, Hung Yen Province. She was the oldest daughter of Mr. Luong Van Cap and Mrs. Nguyen Thi Bien.

Luong Van Cap was a soldier who helped the military to build villages in the North. Therefore, all people there were named after his family name to show their gratefulness. Nguyen Thi Bien was a trader who lived in Hang Dong, Hang Sat, Hang Long near Hang Co station (near Southern Street) where many of their relatives also settled. They had nine children: Luong Thi The, Luong Van Tang, Luong Bao Loc, Luong Van Tuy, Luong Van In, Luong Thi Sau, Luong Van Bay, Luong Van Tinh (Tam), Luong Thi Phuong.

Cu Luong van CapAccording to oral history about Cu Luong van Cap:

“For his actions it is said that he received honors from the Emperor. The formal attire he is wearing in photograph is Hanfu and worn at court. The Chinese characters on his left may be a certification bestowed by the Emperor.”

Memoirs of Luong Thi The’s life

She was a beautiful girl in the village. And, her parents were smart enough so at the age of 19 she could marry Le Tien who was a middle age widower and three innocent children: Le Thi Ty, Le Van Tuoc, Le Thi Tuat. She was scared of possible responsibility but her parents encouraged and wanted her to marry him. Continue reading