Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Lost Photo -Does anyone have it ?

Edited 6/12/2010 : Here is the Lost photo ! thank you very much Auntie Soo-Jan for supplying the photo . And thank you so much for all the other material ,it is a treasure trove of documents and pictures and memories , that I will presenting in future blog posts !

There is a photo mentioned in Soo-Yin's book that I have never seen . Does anyone have it ?
If you do , please scan it and email it to me so I can include it here .

I will let Auntie Soo-Yin tell you about it. "Father " is San Tong , Dorothy and Corrine are San Tong's American born sisters, Uncle San You is San Tong's older brother , Leong Shee is San Tong's mother , and of course there is Jue Joe , the patriarch. This is a photo clearly of the halcyon days of which I speak . The calm before the storm . The time before tragedy and strife split the family asunder .

Auntie Soo-Yin writes :

The photo of Father's family is remarkable. It's the only image of Joe caught with the pack. Seated on a chair he wears his cricket suit washed and pressed. Age and weather hatch across his face. And to me he looks like a charioteer who has mastered the inventions of life. But on Joe's left sits Leong Shee. She's young and has something behind her countenance: a "possibility" having been dumped upon . O those inward moves! I see that her ebony hair swings into a bun, twisted as tightly as so much of her life. And on her lap squirms my Aunt Dorothy, a toddler but her eyes are sharp as the crags of the Santa Susana Mountains .

And she's just staring . That is my Aunt Corrine. Two years older than Dorothy, Corrine's expression suggests the need for greater space . Perched on her father's knee Corrine's pie-shaped face reveals a social yearning. Is this snapshot to last an eternity ? O my friends, time moves you around in one! It suspends you in virtual space.

Behind Corrine and Joe , I see Uncle San You standing at ease. He shows me a broad and confident interior- like the zest of a debonair-and his features detail our yesteryear's mark: a long face and even proportions. There's humor skidding across his angles too.

"In the middle of action ,that's where I'd always find him," flexed Father's chords to me "My brother told me he planned to fly a Kitty Hawk to Sanjiang Village and land it right in our front yard. He'd gotten his pilot's license the day before our family's photograph was taken."

As father spoke I felt his breath grow heavy, as if feeling out some memory, either between them or around them which was clearly painful , something I was yet to understand.

And there behind Leong Shee stands Father, draped inside sepia dreams. I know he's fourteen years older than Corrine, which makes him sixteen years older than Dorothy, and the emotional distance between them is like father and daughters. My father projects a poignant face that runs the latitude of many rustic feelings. That is clear to me . Imagination writes "No Trespass" across his interior landscape, a landscape stamped with shy meridians. He's destined to shoulder the profundity of human sprains, that's what I see. And as I move closer to examine such a hint I catch Father's inspection of life's flaws. Hit by that essence I know what this snapshot means to me.

This photo of our family brings me pain, for it is a family struggling to enter smoothly the rough angles of the human woodland.

Regarding my two aunts who roamed Ameriland I spill the following: they were first to be born on western soil. To my aunts came roller skates, talking pictures, indoor plumbing,the speakeasy, the Victrola and Okeh records, Hayvenhurst Elementary School , Van Nuys High School, college , and the laughter and scintillation of America in its quintessence before a rupture. In other words- citizenship!


  1. JR: Auntie Soo-Jan has this family photo. It is the only photo of Jue Joe with his wife and four children. I am sure she'll be happy to scan and email it to you. Auntie Soo-Yin.

  2. Jue Joe rarely had time to take his family on vacation. One time he did, and took them to San Francisco. San Tong recalls that his sister Corrine was about 12 years old when the whole family walked into the St. Francis Hotel lobby. The floor manager told Jue Joe that "no Chinese are allowed to stay at this hotel." In response Jue Joe said to him, "But I work hard all year. No have time take vacation. This only time with my family. I have money, please you take. I want family enjoy." Jue Joe was pursuasive and so charismatic. The hotel mgr and staff were impressed by his character, and from then on, they never forgot Jue Joe. This is what my father San Tong told me. Auntie Soo-Yin.