Master Yu Jim Yuen passed away in the U.S. Even though his Beijing Opera dreams went unfulfilled, he unknowingly injected endless life into Hong Kong film and his influence was far reaching. Back then he operated the school and tried to save every cent, it was not for himself but for his group of disciples.
Looked For Financing Everywhere, Swindled Parents
When Seven Little Fortunes lived at the school, Master Yu was like Devil's Wrath. Before he was seen, his cane appeared first. Disciples often saw himself from afar and took another route. Yet years later when Master passed, even if they wanted to see him one more time they could not. Seven Little Fortunes were lost and confused. Looking back at the past, they realized that Master actually was not so frightening.
Back then Master Yu operated a school without any government or financing group backing. With the spirit of the fabled old fool, he wanted to spread Beijing Opera. No matter how passionate and persistent he was, without money he could not achieve anything. In Hong Kong of the 60s and 70s, the economy has not taken off. Money did not come easily. Seven Little Fortunes' performance salary alone was not enough, Master Yu could only come up with ways to get money.
According to Yuen Bun, Master Yu had tens of millions of ways to make money. The more aged the ginger is the spicier it is. The older a person is the more sly he gets. Sometimes in order to make money, even Seven Little Fortunes' long clothes gang (wealthy ones) were not spared.
Yuen Bun says, "Master was very slick. Because a costume was very expensive and cost several thousands, Master sometimes would get the more wealthy families of Seven Little Fortunes to sponsor costumes. I remember when once Master called Yuen Biao's family and said that he would play the lead and asked his family to pay for costumes. His family of course was happy and even bought tickets for an entire row, thinking that they would watch their son in the lead role with friends. When they got there they looked all over and could not see Yuen Biao's face. Later he realized that the lead was someone else."
Lowered himself To Make Money For More Food
Master Yu occasionally had to be sly, but when the times got tough even the Master had to lower himself and pick vegetables to raise this group of misfits!
Yuen Bun learned from Master Lui who taught Seven Little Fortunes kung fu that Master Yu had a tough time that he never told anyone about. "Sometimes looking back, Master is truly very noble. Why would he have to raise us! Actually back then life was truly very tough. Master Lui said, back then Master in order to make a living for the family went to Yau Ma Tei all the time with a big basket. He would pick up vegetable leaves on the ground as he walked and put them into the basket, then took them to be sold. Every time he went from Yau Ma Tei to Tsim Sha Tsui. At the time the basket would sell for 20 cents. Then Master would hand the money to Si Mo for more dishes for us."
Master Yu's hard work ultimately did not go to waste. Years later Seven Little Fortunes did not regret the terrifying days of caning but appreciated the endless benefits that Master provided them. (33)