Sunday, September 29, 2019

Jue Joe Ranch- A new powerpoint by Auntie Soo Yin

Here is a new enhanced Power point presentation by Auntie Soo Yin about the history of Jue Joe and the Jue Joe family in America. which is nicely set to music.
The best way to view this presentation is to hit the expand full screen button on the bottom right and then once you get a full screen, click on the oval white area  in the right lower corner  and then click  play ( On some computers the music will just start automatically) . Once the music starts, just  manually advance the slides on your computer while you listen to the music !. The last powerpoint slide includes a video set to music of Jue family asparagus operations . It does not open properly from the power point presentation on this blog so I have included it below the power point presentation .  Thanks Auntie Soo Yin!

Legend of Zhao- By Auntie Soo Yin

Here is new power point presentation by Auntie Soo Yin on the history of the Zhao (Jue) clan  from which our family is descended. There is music for you to enjoy while you look at the slides.  The best way to view this presentation is to hit the expand full screen button on the bottom right and then once you get a full screen click on the oval white area in the right lower corner  and then  click  play  ( On some computers the music will just start playing). Once the music starts manually advance the slides on your computer while you listen to the music !.
Thanks Auntie Soo Yin !

Friday, March 22, 2019

Robert Yen's Poem " The Ranch"

Recently my cousin Robert Yen shared a moving poem he wrote long ago about the Van Nuys ranch.

 "I came upon this poem in my old files. It’s one I wrote 30 years ago based on stories my mom told me about her growing up with your dad at the ranch. You’ll recognize that it actually combines her stories with some of my memories of the ranch house which didn’t exist during their childhood, e.g., the moss by the front door, the steps and the door mat on the side of the house. (Remember that closet next to the door where Ah Gung kept his hats?)"

- for my mother and uncle

With a walnut branch
we coax a black horse to the fence.
Together, we climb on its wide back
and watch the sun fall
beyond the far eucalyptus.

The slivers of beef
and asparagus from father's fields
are on the stove, and as we make our way home
we leave low-hanging motes of dust
then climb three steps
and pause before entering, to rattle
our shoes on the steel mat beside the door.

The table is set in grey.
We set ourselves in the black chairs
and cool our throats with milk
from a silver pitcher.

At night the house is silent
except for father
coughing into a bag in the kitchen.

we pinch the light from stars
and watch the moon rise in the east
out of Asia.

From the door of a packing shed
Mexican songs and lantern light scatter
across the glimmering fields.

I step through the cold and tender moss
by our front door.

a good woman-our grandmother-
draws me near and whispers good night
before I climb on the moon's yellow light
into feather comforters where I cry
and try to remember
the face of our mother.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Auntie Soo Yin's Talk at Daniel Pearl Magnet School

Recently my Auntie Soo Yin was invited by Franky Ortega, a teacher at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School, to give a talk about the history of the Joe Joe Ranch to his classes."Daniel Pearl Magnet High School is a magnet school within the Los Angeles Unified School District in Lake Balboa, Los Angeles, near Van Nuys, in the San Fernando Valley. It is the smallest comprehensive high school in LAUSD  ".  It is located adjacent to Birmingham high school of which Auntie Soo Yin is an alumnus herself. The site of the Jue Joe Van Nuys ranch is located very close to the school within walking distance.

Here is Auntie Soo Yin's description of her talk.
"It was an honor to bring the Jue Joe story to Franky's students.  I spoke to two different history classes of Franky's, the third and fourth periods, and each time the kids were very engaged and asked me good questions.  They found our family's transnational story fascinating.  The talk addressed birthright citizenship, exclusion laws, emigration and separation of families, culture clash, colorful characters and historical figures that graced the ranch, and the San Fernando Valley's historical ranch culture.  They loved your Saugus video!!  It made the points that I covered come alive for them because they could see how asparagus farming was actually done!  When the video showed women sorting and grading asparagus shoots on a moving conveyor belt in the Packinghouse, one student exclaimed it was just like watching "I Love Lucy," in which Lucy is working in a chocolate factory!  Students commented that our family's past legal and social challenges were very relevant to important issues that this country is embroiled in today.  Also, they were delighted to learn that Ritchie Valens had lived briefly on the Jue Joe Ranch!  When I asked for a show of hands if anyone knew of Ritchie who'd died before their time.  All the students raised their hands!  They knew every song that he had recorded too.  Moreover, the kids were excited to learn that I was an alumnus of Birmingham.  They asked me what was it like attending the School back then, and were the teachers good or bad, lol!"

As part of her presentation she showed an edited video I made of the film of the Jue family Saugus farming operation that was created by my late father, Jack Sr.  and late Uncle Harry.

Here is her powerpoint presentation.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Rose Jue's Grave site

After locating Jue Joe's grave site, my Auntie Soo Yin also visited Rosemary Jue's grave site at Rosedale cemetery. Rose was the first wife of San Tong Jue and the mother of my late father, Jack  and my auntie Joan.

Here  are my Auntie Soo Yin's photos of the grave site and the headstone. Rosemary's headstone is the fourth large upright headstone to the right of the tree.

Here is a picture of Rose with my father when he was a baby.

Here is a picture of  her two children Jack and Joan.
Here is a picture of my Grandfather San Tong, Rose and my father.
Here is a closeup of her dressed up for a costume party.
Here is the last photo she took of her children , Jack and Joan , before she tragically died at the very young age of 27  from post operative complications after surgery.

I am very sorry I never met my grandmother.

We sometimes forget she was a thoroughly modern young Chinese American woman born and raised in the United States. Here is an excerpt of her letter to San Tong who was farming with his father in the Imperial valley  while she was pregnant with my dad who she calls "Ah Yit"

Los Angeles, Nov 25, '27

Dearest Husband,
Am writing a few lines to know how you are getting along . Are you working hard, and do you miss me very much? I sure miss you , Honey Boy!! We thought perhaps you were coming back for Thanksgiving Day . Sam phoned the nite before saying that he would bring a turkey and a couple of chickens out the following day. So we did have Turkey, dressing , potatoes, chicken, Birds nest soup and Roast pork. It was good ! Oh, how I wished you were here to eat it with us !! It didn't taste near as good as it would have if you were with us too.!

Gee, I'd like to bring you folks some Turkey, cause I'd know you'd like it! But just think of the distance, 150 miles to go and 150 miles back. I'd like to take the train but the distance I'd have to walk !!! Oh Baby! when are you coming back to " Ah Yit" and me ? You've been gone five whole days already!! Sometimes I get so lonesome I cry.

I went up town and got myself a hat. I hope you like it . I got it down at Bullock's . I got Ma a hat for her birthday. I told her " I'm going to spend $5 on you anyway ,so you might as well choose what you  like, before I buy something you don't care for !! So she chose a hat. I bought Dad a wool shirt for $4.  I brought the clock to fix and they're going to charge me $1.50 for fixing it . I'm going to buy $5 of yarn to knit a blanket. After I buy that , I'll sure be broke!
Isn't it funny how fast money goes?

Mother wants to know how Father is and if he is any better. Please give him my regards.
Mother hasn't been so well either, backache, headache , heartache and etc. I told her to let me bring her to the doctors' but she says the doctor doesn't do much good anyway. Sometimes she's alright but at other times she doesn't feel good at all. Just like me! Sometimes I'm alright but gee, sometimes my back hurts me terrible, also my tummy feels so heavy. I guess it's " Ah Yit". Gee! I'd be glad if I was all through with him !! Wouldn't that be nice? Close now and please write soon ! How much longer are you going to stay , Honey? Here are all my love and kisses.
Your darling wife,

My late Auntie Joan created this beautiful tribute to her mother , Rose . 

My cousin Bob wrote a moving poem about Rose that I will include below:

Coming to This Life-after reading letters from my grandmother, Rose Evelyn Chung (1908-1935)

I dreamed that you lived 'til now.

In my garden, I see you
thumbing dark soil into your palm,
the sandiness of your life transforming
......into this shared dream of nasturtiums, and
......hollyhocks,and delphinium; a garden

bright with dreams you deferred to your daughter,
......and she to me,
..............and me to my daughter.

In your time , you smelled a breeze
.......just like this,
tasted the fruit of dates from Indio and hungered
for sugar cane as sweet as these. And yet,

how strange it is to be alive.
beneath this elm. Purple finches chattering above
like school children-like my children -who in
their love for books

can only glimpse the lives to come.

But we have come to our lives-mine,
a single history in an archipelago of poems;

an archive of letters to your husband, bringing
back to you .........and you...

to us.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A Visit to Jue Joe's Grave site

Recently my Auntie Soo-Yin visited Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles to revisit Jue Joe's gravesite.  Angelus Rosedale Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in Los Angeles and was the first to allow multi racial burials.
From the Rosedale Cemetery website:
"It was founded as Rosedale Cemetery in 1884, when Los Angeles was a small city of around 28,285 people, on 65 acres of land running from Washington to Venice Boulevard (then 16th Street) between Normandie Avenue and Walton and Catalina Streets, and often used by California politicians, notably former Mayors of the City of Los Angeles. The interments include pioneers and members of leading families who had a conspicuous place in Los Angeles institutions and the state. Rosedale was the first cemetery in Los Angeles open to all races and creeds, and was the first to adopt the concept of the new approach of design called lawn cemeteries, where the grounds are enhanced to surround the burial places of the dead with beautiful and decorative trees, shrubs, flowers, natural scenery and works of monumental art. Among the more traditional structures, headstones and mausoleums, the cemetery also has several pyramid crypts."

Here are some pictures from Auntie Soo Yin of her trip :

Jue Joe's gravesite is just across the street from ">"Mausoleum/Columberiam, ( the large white building) and  the small "Doll house mauseoleum" near the original entrance of the Cemetery in the picture above.  Jue Joe's grave is directly behind the Newhall family Obelisk in this picture below . 

His grave site is just behind the Obelisk and next to the Dodge family large headstone. 

Here is Jue Joe's very simple plaque which is in excellent condition.
Jue Joe always used the Chinese version of his name with last name first but the plaque is written in the American style with the family name last .

You might wonder why Jue Joe's plaque is so simple while his grave site is in a very prominent section of the cemetery and surrounded by large monuments.  I will let my Auntie Soo-Yin explain.

"In 1941 the family was still struggling to recover from the Depression.  So Ah Gung didn't have money for a fancier marker for Jue Joe.  It was Ah Gung's intent that in the future, he would replace Jue Joe's plain marker with a nicer one that would have dates and a few loving words.  But the opportunity never arose.  So the plaque bears only Jue Joe's name, and in retrospect, it reflects the way that Jue Joe liked to live, simple and minimal.

Ah Gung paid a lot of money for Jue Joe's resting place.  This area is where distinguished folks are interred.  Hattie McDaniel, who played Scarlett O'Hara's "Mammy" in Gone with the Wind is buried nearby.  And Jue Joe is resting between the Dodge and Newhall families.  This section is the most well cared for in the Cemetery, which explains why the "Joe Jue" headstone is in such good condition.    
Seems that Ah Gung went for location as foremost in honoring Jue Joe.  He wanted his father in good company.  He intended to replace Jue Joe's headstone with a better one in the future, but the Depression hit him hard, he became the sole breadwinner for our extended families in America and in China, so he was struggling to keep us all afloat.  Then came the trouble with Dorothy and he never had the money to order a new headstone. "

Auntie's visit to my great grandfather's grave site got me thinking about maybe creating a virtual headstone for him on this blog site.  The story of our family in America began with Jue Joe's decision to leave China as a young man in 1874 and take the long journey to America. His story and the early story of our family is chronicled in the pages of this blog . It is important , I think, as my late Auntie Joan used to say, to pause in our busy lives to take a moment to thank those from whom we inherit our life stories.

Here is the virtual headstone I created for my great grandfather. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Saugus 1940s

Asparagus farming is a complex affair.  It often takes a couple of years after planting asparagus before spears are ready for harvest and then a given piece of land has a limited productive life before the asparagus yields become less productive because of over cutting and disease. As the Van Nuys asparagus farm became less productive, my grandfather San Tong began farming in the Saugus/Newhall area in the 1940s. By the 1950's the farm was in full operation and my father even made a movie of the Saugus farming operation.  Here are some photos from my father's childhood album of the Saugus ranch in the 1940's. My dad was about 12-14 when he took these pictures.  I will add his captions where they are available.

"Loon, Saugus, April 1942"
Loon's story is here.

"Dad at Newhall Ranch 1941"

"The fields at Saugus our ranch 1941"

"New Building, Saugus April 1942"

"Florene Boss, Saugus 1942"

"Norma Chan, Saugus, April 1942"

"Ann L. hiking at Saugus, 1941"
"Donald, Saugus 1940"
"My grandmother, Saugus, 1941"

"Ann L. Joan, Grandmother, picknicking near Cascade, 1941"
I think "Cascade" refers to the California water aqueduct cascade near Sylmar.

Here are some other pictures of Norma Chan a family friend back at the main ranch in Van Nuys.

"Norma Chan, Van Nuys Ranch, April 1942"

"Norma Chan and Shek Lewis, Van Nuys, April 1942"