National Geographic : 2003 Mar
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA after the hour was up he could padlock it shut. Thuong and Loan still live in the same one-story brick house they bought for cash 17 years ago, two doors from a nearly identical house where he keeps his office. Thuy lives in a two-story, upscale suburban house half an hour away. "I don't want to live in an old, small house," Thuy says. "I'm living the American dream. We grew up poor. We want to move up in society." That tension between the bonds of tradition and the blandishments of the American dream sizzles all across Little Saigon. Stop by Su Nguyen's Hop Ky cafe most any morning around 10 and, if you speak Vietnamese, you can hear Su trading stories with his old military buddies about their grandchildren and the mistakes that lost the war. One large South Viet namese flag is tacked to a wall, another flies in the wind outside, and a third sits beside the Stars and Stripes atop an old deli case stocked with pig intestine, roast duck, and stuffed buns. Three veterans in their 60s sip tea with Su. All, like him, went to prison for several years after the fall of Saigon; some spent more years in ref ugee camps. "They come here every morning; some are retired, others work night toms." Amonk (above) blesses temple member Le Thi Mul, 91, who lives in the area with four gen erations of her family. The tension between the bonds of tradition and the blan dishments of the American dream sizzles all across Little Saigon.