Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Details: "Posie" -Leong Shee

There is one person who spans the entire history of the Jue Joe Clan and who is remembered by all the clan who knew her with great fondness. It is "Posie" or Leong Shee . Her maiden name was Leong Gin and she was born in Mar Chung Village, Sunwui District ,China ,. She was married to Jew Joe at the Sanjiang Village , Sunwui District China , on November 23, 1902. She lived with Jue Joe in Sanjiang (Sam Gong Village) and had two children San You and San Tong . She stayed in China and held the family together , not hearing from Jue Joe for 9 years, ultimately she emigrated to the USA in 1918 with her two boys to join a husband she had not seen for 12 years ! . After San You's death , and the rift of her daughter in law with Jue Joe , she tries to sneak money to help my Grandaunt May . After the death of San Tong's first wife , Rose, she ultimately takes her son back to China in 1937 to find a new wife for him and returns with San Tong and Ping after their marriage. She acts as Jack and Joan's surrogate mother after the untimely death of their mother and raises them from age 5 and 7 until their teens , while raising her own daughters Dorothy and Corrine . She is the beloved grandma of San Tong and Ping's children ,Soo-Jan , Guy , Pingeleen, and Soo-Yin and is the beloved great grandma of a new generation of Jue's including yours truly . As a young child I have strong memories of my kindly great grandma. I am sure the lawsuit hurt her deeply . She was the link that spanned all the generations of the Jue Joe Clan and the glue that held them together. In the end that glue was not enough.

One of the subplots of this story that I could not understand was how she could emigrate back and forth from China in 1937 during the time of the Oriental Exclusion Act . Here is Leong Shee's immigration picture on reentry to the USA in 1937.

The offical immigration sworn statement that Auntie Soo-Jan so kindly provided me gives us the answer .

Q From what port and on what ship will you sail on this trip?
A " Pres. Coolidge " from San Pedro about March 2, 1937. I am going with my son , Jew Sung Tong .
Q For what purpose are you going and how long do you intend to remain ?
A Just for a few months visit .
Q On what do you base your application for a Laborer's Return Certificate?
A I have my daughter , Dorothy Jew, who will remain in the United States during my absence.
Q Do you understand that your said daughter must so remain until your return from China and that her remaining is a condition of your return as a laborer?
A Yes

Apparently there was a loophole in the law that allowed Chinese of the prohibited "laborer" class to travel to and from China and the USA if they had a dependent child born in the USA who remained in the USA during their travel .

(Pictures and documents in this post kindly provided by Auntie Soo-Jan )


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  2. (Sorry, I posted the camper story in the wrong place above.) The photo of Leong Shee is the way I remember her--always smiling and very loving. She was a very capable and smart woman. In Sum Gong Village, during Jue Joe's absence, she was successful farming Joe's fields and added 33 acres of her own acquisition to Joe's estate. Moreover, in Winter from December to January it was pirate season in Sum Gong. Leong Shee feared for the safety of her sons so each night she hid San Tong in a stack of rice straw, and hid San Yao in another stack, for the night. In the early morning she would fetch them and prepare their breakfasts of rice gruel. Auntie Soo-Yin.

  3. Leong Shee (Leong Gin) was 17 years old when her mother arranged her marriage to Jew Joe, aged 42 or 47. Leong Shee had 5 older brothers in Ma Choong Village who helped her become self-sufficient in farming, after Jue Joe had to return to L.A. when San Tong was only 4mths old. Leong Shee's father was diabetic and died early, leaving her mother to raise 6 children. San Tong remembered his maternal Grandmother as kind and loving. Auntie Soo-Yin.

  4. I remember Leong Shee's heartbreak at hearing news of Dorothy's lawsuit. That day my mother had prepared my siblings and I that a "very serious family discussion" would take place in the family room and that my siblings and I were to stay away from there. She told us not to make any noise and to be good children. Some moments later Posie (Leong Shee) ran into our living room where I was. She was sobbing unconsolably and sank into a leather rocking chair. She kept muttering between her sobs that "...the land belongs to Jue's all Jue Joe's land..." I had never seen my grandmother so hysterical with tears pouring down her face and I was so scared. In a few minutes JR's mother Alice brought Leong Shee a cup of tea. Also, my mother came in to console Leong Shee too. With the two women at her side and with San Tong joining in later, Posie calmed down. Auntie Soo-Yin.

  5. Life in China was different for Posie than what awaited her in Los Angeles. In China she was independant. Not only did she purchase more land but also leased out land. The sharecroppers then paid her in yields of rice grown from the land; San Tong remembers playing in great mountains of rice in a shed, rice that Leong Shee later sold at Sum Gong Village's open market. Once a year she sewed one new shirt and pants for San Tong and his brother San You. She first carded the cotton, then with her spinning wheel she spun it into threads. With her loom she wove the threads into fabric and then cut and hand-sewed the boy's clothes. At the Jue Joe Ranch I remember seeing Posie's Cheong-Sam dress brought from China that she wore during cold winters in Sum Gong: She'd sewn a thick layer of wool fur and wore the fur on the inside. She told me that this was what women did in China because homes did not have heating. Auntie Soo-Yin.