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Magical mail carrier

When Tommy Ng moved to Tillamook from Hong Kong, he wanted to improve his English. He’d enjoyed performing close-up magic since he was a kid. So, he decided to learn the punchlines in English to accompany his tricks.


“When I first came to America, I didn’t have a car. So, I would take the bus to the magic shop in Portland and buy the VHS tapes,” he said. “I would then come back and, with nothing else to do, would play it and start practicing.”


Born and raised in Hong Kong, Ng immigrated to the United States at the age of 21. His aunt and uncle proceeded him in the move, operating the former Fei Ying Chinese restaurant in Tillamook.  


“The first five years I didn’t like it here, so I kept my summer job in Hong Kong,” Ng said detailing that he would travel back and forth between the two countries.

In his youth, Ng was a record-holding youth swimmer. He gravitated toward diving and finswimming: a swimming technique that utilizes a monofin. He held a Hong Kong youth record of 18.54 seconds for the 50-meter finswim. He had his sights on becoming a professional swimmer, when he was sidelined.


“I have an irregular heartbeat,” Ng said. “With a pacemaker, you can’t be a professional swimmer. So, I started learning about coaching. By the time I was 15, I was a lifeguard and then an assistant coaching on the swimming team.”


After decolonization in 1997, Hong Kong updated the country’s lifeguarding requirements.


“I was the youngest and in the first group in Hong Kong to get the lifeguard teacher certificate,” Ng said. “You needed to apply when you were 18. So, I applied on my 18th birthday and passed everything you needed to.”


While living in Hong Kong, Ng studied traumatology, Chinese traditional medicine, and acupuncture, but his credentials were not transferable to the United States. So, once in Tillamook, he fell back on his advanced-swimming skills.


“I got a job at the [Tillamook] YMCA as a lifeguard in the mornings,” Ng said. “At the time, my English was not good, but I knew some basics. I still remember when I got the job, I was teaching an arthritis swim class when I saw two moves called: ‘merry go round’ and ‘rocking horse.’ I knew all the words, but I didn’t know what they meant.”


While establishing himself more and more in Tillamook, Ng continued to long-distance date his high school sweetheart: Peggy.


“We were boyfriend and girlfriend for 10 years,” Ng said. “She would come here on a travel visa often.”


The two married in 2004 and together have an 11-year old son Draco.


Something that would have made their long-distance in the 2000s relationship easier? Fast internet.


“I got a landline installed to my house so that I could read the newspaper in Hong Kong,” Ng laughed. “I would select one news story and then go take a shower. I would come back and that one news story would still be loading.”


The family of three have made Tillamook their homebase, taking trips back to Hong Kong to visit family when they can.


“It’s really expensive to travel back and forth,” Ng said.


To say the family has worked hard, is an understatement. Peggy works at the Chinese Garden, and Ng is sometimes known to work 70 hours a week through multiple jigs.


“Peggy is amazing. She works hard, is a wonderful wife and mother, and is really down-to-earth,” Ng said. “We both are working a lot and see the long-term future.”


Twenty years ago, Ng applied for a part-time job at the Tillamook Post Office as a rural mail carrier.


“As a rural carrier, you have to use your own car,” Ng said. “At first, I drove a car with a bench seat and drove like a monkey until I upgraded to my rural jeep [with the steering on the righthand side.”


He continued to lifeguard (10 years with the Tillamook County YMCA) until a full time position became available with the post office, a position he’s held for the past 13 years.

Despite his busy schedule, Ng still finds some time to practice and perform his hobby: magic.


“When I was younger  I was kind of famous here,” Ng said. “I would go to schools and the libraries and perform.”


Ng regularly meets with the Society of American Magicians and the Portland Society of Magicians to talk about magic. He also competes in magic competitions, of which is has won several including the close-up magic division of the Kramien’s Northwest Magic Jamboree.


“I still do parties, but just really less right now because the post office is really busy,” he said.


A growing passion of his: bubble magic.


“I’ve created a secret formula and sell it around the world.”

To purchase a bottle, reach out to Ng on his Facebook page.


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