Thursday, June 24, 2010

Details: San Tong and Ping in Florida and Mexico

(pictures , and information courtesy of Auntie Soo-Jan)

After the lawsuit and in financial ruin, San Tong and Ping took off to Florida to start over. They were not able to start a business there and came back.
Auntie Soo-Jan describes my Grandfather's home made camper and their trip.

"This a photo of Sun Tong’s self-built camper of which he was very proud. I’m not sure which year he built it, but I think it was in the 1950’s. Sun Tong and Lai Ping lived and drove across the Country in the pick-up and camper to Florida. I remember that when they returned, they told stories of not knowing which drinking fountains or restrooms to use when they passed through the deep South during segregation era. People told them that they were considered white. Also, in some small towns in the Midwest, the only Oriental images the people had were from old T.V. cowboy shows when Chinese wore pigtails, Chinese clothing and worked in a laundry. They were very surprised to see modern day Chinese people. "

Later San Tong goes to Mexico to try to make a go of it . Ping joins him for a time in 1966 but returns to the USA after finding that her severe rheumatoid arthritis made it difficult for her .

The following is a photo of Lai Ping sitting next to a newly built fireplace in a hacienda in Mexico in 1966.

This a picture of Sun Tong and Lai Ping at Rancho San Antonio in Mexico in 1966 making pei dahn,“thousand year old eggs.”

edited 5/3/2011
Here is a clip from my Auntie Estelle and Uncle Guys Honeymoon at the Hacienda in 1966. The clip begins with Auntie Estelle and Uncle Guy touring the Hacienda grounds and waterfall . Then there is a segment with Uncle Guy and his father ( my grandfather) San Tong riding horses . Guy is the man in the white pants and San Tong is in the blue shirt .

More information about the Hacienda and San Tong's time there can be found here.


  1. CAMPER: San Tong built his camper in 1957. He invented it and did not look at or read any diagrams or instruction manuels. Pretty remarkable. The camper was equipped with stove, sink w/ faucets, refrigerator, dining table, a pull-down double bed, a couch/fold-out bed, toilet, shower stall, and a pull-out patio w/ awning at the back of the camper. I believe it was 1957 because this was my Mom's first trip away from my siblings and I. She was worried about leaving us alone but felt it was her duty and desire to support my Dad. So she put Guy in charge of the household (Soo-Jan was living off-campus at UCLA). Guy was 17 yrs old and a Sr. at Birmingham HS. My Mom had presigned school "absentee cards" in case one of us got sick, then we had an excuse to be out. I played hookie with one card and got caught. The V.P. called Guy and I to his office, and Guy had to explain the discrepency between my handwriting and Mom's signature. For my prank I got a 1-day detention, and a teacher in Detention Hall pulled me aside and said, "Hey kid, you don't belong here so I don't ever want to see your mug here again!" I never played hookie after that. This is why I remember my parent's trip to Florida. After we moved to Shoshone Ave. in Northridge Guy returned to the Ranch 1 week later to fetch the camper but it was gone. Gone, too, was the field box containing Jue Joe's opium pipe (in his last years he doctored his ulcer in the Chinese way) and bills regarding kegs of beer purchased for his saloon at 2nd Street and Broadway, etc. But I am glad I saved, from that field box, our father's letter that he wrote to Corrine in Hong Kong, along with registered postage, that explained what triggered Dorothy's lawsuit. I remember how proud our father felt about his camper, and how sad he felt when it was taken from him. Auntie Soo-Yin.

  2. RANCHO SAN ANTONIO: San Tong built this fireplace in his bedroom at a hacienda in Tulancingo, Hidalgo province, Mexico. For a time he worked as a forman for Angel Castro, owner of this 500-hundred year old fortress. So the hacienda had no heat except for fireplaces. Nestled in the mountains it was cold and damp and Ping enjoyed sitting by the fire. For centuries the villagers and their offsprings worked for the hacienda. It was a lovely place with vast grounds. Here, San Tong raised Esther White piglets for market. Also, Estelle and Guy spent their honeymoon here. Auntie Soo-Yin.