It is a magical place , the Ranch House that San Tong builds in 1945 (was it 1947 ?)on the site of Jue Joe's original homestead in Van Nuys .
Some of my earliest memories are playing in the house with my cousin Scott, Auntie Joan's eldest son in the late 1950's . For 5 or 6 year old kids , the place was immense . I remember the red carpets, the big piano , the huge picture of my great grandfather over the mantel , the big long staircase and the huge upstairs wing., the veranda out back, the giant swimming pool , and enormous tortoise out back . There was a school house, a gas pump , barns with old cars and ancient newspapers. There was great mystery also about the place and something hinting even for a young kid of sorrow and loss. The place seemed unkempt , in decay. It was , of course , center piece of a courtroom drama being played out by my elders. I did not know of these things at the time .. BUT I do remember falling in the fish pond , and thinking that for sure I would drown because I could not swim , but feeling immense gratitude when my cousin , Scott , reached down and hauled me out and saved me ! I remember one of my aunties washing me out in the upstairs bathroom and a gold fish falling out of my pants. These are some of my earliest and strongest memories.
The house was built by San Tong to be the center of the clan universe, a place of refuge for those to come when in trouble , a place of happiness with the Chinese character for happiness carved into the front door . It was also to be a gift to his mom who had lived a hard life .
It was home at various times for San Tong , Ping , Leong Shee , Jack , Joan , , Soo-Yin, Pingileen, Guy , and Soo Jan . On the ranch property , Cousin Loon also lived with Aunt Fay ( more about Cousin Loon and his family in an upcoming blog ) , Mama and Papa Kuwihara., who were elderly japanese , were hired by San Tong after they were released from an internment camp were also on the ranch .
My mother's father, Reverend Kwok , taught Chinese to the kids of San Tong and Ping. and he and my grandmother Kwok lived nearby after my dad married my mom .
Dorothy and Corrine would come and visit . Corrine had gone to UCLA , and Dorothy to USC,
Later Dorothy went to post graduate studies at John Hopkins . Corrine married Lansing Kwok a wealthy Hong Kong Import , export businessman . and Dorothy married Warren Moe , a physician . San Tong supported their education while continuing farming operations in Van Nuys , Saugus /Newhall , and the Imperial Valley. Later some of the land of the Van Nuys farm is sold for subdivisions, but San Tong reserves some of the lots for family.
It was the central universe of the clan , the gathering point .. but there were big storms on the horizon.