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"I don't have many customers, but they are good customers," she said. "I make just a living. I don't expect anything more than that"

Ms. Cho says she has worked seven days a week with never as much as a day off, in five years. The shop is her oasis, she said, a place constantly filled with classical music - sometimes the music of her daughters - Yuri, 29, and Yumi, 26 - who are distinguished violinists with successful professional performance careers. Both are Juilliard graduates and now live in California, where they teach master students in conservatories. Yuri is currently playing with the Afiara String Quartet.

Ms. Cho initially emigrated from Korea to Edmonton, Alberta, in the 1970s and had her daughters taking piano and violin lessons by age 3.

"I showed them the scales I knew on piano," she said. "That major is happy and minor is sad."

In 1995, when the girls were teenagers, their father died suddenly of a heart attack. With little money, Ms. Cho moved with the girls to Manhattan and got them auditioned to enter Juilliard on scholarship, she said. They studied with the prominent violin teacher Dorothy DeLay. Ms. Cho secured a cheap apartment in Washington Heights and worked various jobs to support them.

But the current recession has hit Ms. Cho. Last year, she could no longer afford the rent in Washington Heights and moved into a furnished room in the home of a Korean family in Flushing, closer to her shop, where she displays CDs and other items from her daughters' careers. Recently, she decided it was too costly to keep her large display cases stocked with ice and fresh fillets, so she consolidated the frozen fish into two freezers. The king crab legs are stuffed next to the boxes of shrimp and fillets.

Whitestone is still heavily Italian, and during Christmastime, the customers place big orders for shrimp and clams, Ms. Cho said. Despite her daughters' lofty careers, they still return to New York at Christmastime to help her handle the rush, Ms. Cho said proudly.

She put on Yumi playing Mozart's violin sonata in A major with a pianist; then Yuri's quartet playing a Mendelssohn string quartet. From a display shelf, she took down her daughters' childhood violin and opened it. Inside was the small fiddle and some Mickey Mouse stickers and old doodles of Beethoven's name - in bubble letters with feet. Ms. Cho said she can always recognize her daughter's playing on a recording, having listened to them practicing all these years.

Living with that Korean family in Flushing, she now teaches their small children the scales she knows on piano - major feels happy and minor feels sad.

"It reminds me of teaching Yuri and Yumi," she said. "I'm lonely, but I can manage. Music is my friend now."

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Fresh Fish Daily
149-53 14th Avenue, Whitestone, NY 11357
T/F : 718-767-7849

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