Friday, June 11, 2010

The Dream Ends - San You is gone

San You , the first born son of Jue Joe , arrives in America at age 15 in 1918 .
He enrolls at Van Nuys High School. Here is his freshman class picture. (Click on picture to enlarge).

San You, Van Nuys HS, 1923: San Tong's older brother San You was in the Freshmen B class at Van Nuys High School in 1923. He is located in fifth row from the front row, and is the second person from the left side of photo.

He is the apple of his father' s eye and will lead the fortunes of the family after Jue Joe passes on . He marries Grand Aunt May in a big Chinatown celebration . Aunt May is an American born Chinese girl . In several restaurants one thousands guest are spread across hundreds of tables.Joe treats his son to a lavish celebration although he himself is a simple and frugal man and still sleeps in a one room cabin with a dirt floor on his ranch .

To San You and May ,three daughters are born but no sons. San You is the marketman at the Produce exchange in Los Angeles , the public face of the Jue Joe Company while his little brother San Tong , a quieter guy helps his dad at the ranch in Van Nuys .

Then in 1933 at the age of 30 San You suddenly and unexpectedly dies of leukemia . The death hits Jue Joe hard. The grief is immense. He spends hours by his son's grave.

In his grief , Joe is blindsided by the demands of Aunt May . She has been raised in America and demands her due inheritance as the wife of the Joe's first born son . She tells Joe that he must support her and her three daughters for the rest of their lives. It is her right . It is what is due her . It is something he must guarantee to do and he must guarantee it right now . Of this first family fracture Auntie Soo- Yin writes " Her timing was lousy for Joe had not been ready to think about fiscal measure, let alone to pork it over to a woman. Joe was grieving for the apple of his eye- San You. And for Aunt May's bitter verbosity, which to Joe fell toward felony , she was shown the back door. That action caused San Tong and Leong Shee to sneak Aunt May dough from their private pockets."


  1. Maxine May Kam Jue (Aunt May) was born in Los Angeles on May 19,1906 . She married San You on July 30th 1924. She had three daughters ,
    June born 5/14/1925, Maxine V. , born 7/29/1927, and Lorraine born 10/18/1928 . These daughters were first cousins and contempories of my father, Jack who was born in 1928 but because of the family rift , I don't think he ever got to know these cousins. Aunt May ( my Grand aunt) died in Los Angeles at the age of 63 on March 3rd 1969.

  2. Aunt May and San You's wedding banquet took place in 5 Chinese restaurants. According to custom Jue Joe begged old-timers to come by sending cars w/ drivers to fetch them, then gifting each with a rice bowl, the old-timers played being "too humble to grace such an honorable event" unless they were begged to come and were fetched--this was custom. Cousin June died last year in 2009. Maxine called me about 18 years ago and asked me for info. on Sum Gong Village (Sanjiang) and her father. She and her husband lived in Leisure World and planned a trip to China. She wanted to visit Sum Gong. She said she was curious about her father, why he came to America, but felt no emotional connection to him because he died when she was so young. She said despite the rift "We're still family," and thanked me for telling her how to reach Sum Gong Village and for sending her the L.A. Times news article and a Van Nuys H.S. photo of her father. I remember seeing June, Maxine, and Leatrice (Lorraine)once in Leong Shee's old cottage. They slept overnight in Jack and Joan's bedroom, the room with 3 closet doors. I next saw Maxine and Aunt May in 1956, in court. Aunt May wore a black suit, she was plump, broad-faced, and looked angry.