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Who Is That Interesting Man With You MaryLou?

I am with my Uncle Herb Fransen in Scottsdale Arizona.  My uncle is a retired surgeon. With Uncle Herb, you never run out of conversation topics. He’s interested in all kind of things- Mennonite history, travel, medicine, athletics, nature, photography, family and politics.  Uncle Herb is a retired surgeon, who practised in the mid-western United States and he and my Aunt Mary have also lived in Asia and Europe. For a time when I was a toddler, he and my aunt shared a home with my parents. My uncle practised medicine in Newton Kansas and he and my aunt retired to a property in Arkansas. We met him in Arizona when we were holidaying there and he was staying at his daughter’s home for a time. I don’t get to see my uncle very often but when I do we always have lots to talk about.  I am with the author Mark Twain in Hannibal Missouri. Of course, Mark Twain died in 1910 so the man I am actually with is actor Richard Garey.  I attended his one-man show on a visit to Missouri.  Standing on a stage crammed with Twain memorabilia, Garey did a lively and educational re-creation of one of Mark Twain’s lectures and storytelling presentations. Mark Twain travelled across the United States entertaining crowds of people in the late 1800s. His real name was Samuel Clemens. A pipe-smoker, with little formal education, he loved cats, was an abolitionist and notoriously bad at handling his finances. He was born and died in years when Halley’s Comet passed by the earth.  Mark Twain is a character in my novel Lost on the Prairie which will be published this spring.

I am with my friend Lot Sze in Hong Kong.  Lot, who was a well-known actor, television director, and radio host in Hong Kong was an exchange student in my hometown of Steinbach in the seventies. When he found out some people from Steinbach were in Hong Kong, even though he didn’t know us, he called and introduced himself and said he wanted to return the hospitality he had received during his time in Steinbach. We had so many good times with Lot during our six years in Hong Kong. He took us for meals at gourmet restaurants and gave us a tour of his radio station. He took us to movie premieres and on a trip to the city of Guangzhou.  Lot was a good friend to us and we were so sad in 2018 to hear the news that he had died. I am with Thomas Alva Edison on the estate he and his wife owned in Fort Myers Florida.  Edison is known as the greatest American inventor of all time.  On my visit to his southern home, I learned he proposed to his wife in a Morse Code message and that his parents were both Canadians.  He took out patents for over a thousand inventions including the first record player and movie projector. He made hundreds of movies but perhaps is most well known for inventing the first practical long-lasting light bulb. Edison was technically deaf and was good friends with Helen Keller.  An avid fisherman he was very interested in botany and gardening.  He loved baseball and played the piano. 

If you were going to share a photo of yourself with an interesting man who would it be? 

Other posts…………

Getting Up Close and Personal With a Famous Inventor

Good-Bye Lot Tze

Visiting Uncle Herb


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Good-Bye Lot Sze

Dave and I were so sad to hear this week of the death of Lot Sze.  He was a student at the highschool in Steinbach from 1976-1979 . Although we lived in Steinbach at the time we never met Lot.  When we first moved to Hong Kong in 2003 one of Lot’s former Steinbach teachers Peter Dick e-mailed him to let him know some Steinbach folks were arriving in the city where Lot worked as a radio broadcaster, movie actor and documentary director. That was all Lot needed to know.  He rolled out the red carpet for us.  He told us people in Steinbach had been so kind to him when he lived there that befriending us was a way to pay that kindness forward. 

Lot orders ox tongue, sweet dumplings and souflee for us at a 150 year old eating establishment in Hong Kong called Tai Ping Koon Restaurant.

Lot took us out for gourmet meals at top restaurants in Hong Kong and gave us a tour of the radio station where he hosted a regular program featuring his legendary movie reviews. He gave us gifts.  He took us to movie premieres.  Lot  was a television director and had made two documentaries about Bruce Lee. He had acted in more than a hundred movies and served as the Chinese voice of characters like Robin Hood and Pinocchio in Disney films. Lot planned a weekend jaunt for us to the city of Guangzhou to see theater shows. He often talked to us about the kind and caring teachers he had in Steinbach and the many friends he made as he served as the organist for Husky hockey games and ran a judo club in town.

Visiting with Lot in our Hong Kong apartment

Lot’s parents encouraged him to move to Canada because they were fearful of the consequences of the takeover of Hong Kong by China. Lot had an uncle who was a minister in a Chinese church in Winnipeg so Lot headed there. His uncle recommended he study at Steinbach Bible College and live in the dorm but Lot chose to go to the SRSS and board with local families. He often talked fondly of Mennonite foods, like farmer’s sausage and vereneki.  He remembered especially the wonderful meals made by Margaret Friesen, the mother of his good friend Kevin.  It was Kevin who contacted us a few days ago to tell us Lot had passed away.  

Jim Peters and Lot enjoying Menonite food

When one of Lot’s former Steinbach teachers Jim Peters and his wife Bonnie were coming to Hong Kong to visit we told them how much Lot missed Mennonite food so Bonnie and Jim smuggled a couple rings of farmer’s sausage into the city in their suitcase.  Together Jim and Dave figured out a way to make vereneki using Dave’s Mom’s recipe and Chinese dumpling wraps.  We invited Lot for supper and after tasting Dave and Jim’s vereneki Lot provided an evaluation of their efforts using a Low German phrase he had learned in Steinbach, “Schmeckt Gut.”

Lot treats us to a night out at the gala movie premiere of the documentary Bruce Lee My Brother

After we returned to Canada in 2011 Lot continued to keep in touch with us periodically but we had not heard from him in quite awhile.  We knew his health was precarious already when we left Hong Kong and things were difficult for him because his entire family lived in San Francisco and so although he had a thriving career in Hong Kong he had no family support. 

This week Kevin Friesen e-mailed to tell me Lot had passed away and his sister Elizabeth was looking for any memories people might have of her brother.   I sent her the four Carillon articles I had written about Lot as well as my sincere condolences. 

We used to call Lot our Hong Kong Santa Claus because he was so incredibly generous to us during our years in Asia. Whenever we thanked him he said he was only repaying the kindness he had received during his three years in Steinbach. 

We were so sorry to hear of Lot’s death.  He was a talented and well known media personality in Hong Kong but we knew him as a kind and caring friend who made us feel at home when we were far from our home and family. 

Other posts……

The Swimmers of Tolo Harbor

Hong Kong Inspiration


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