Wednesday, June 9, 2010
San Tong Jue as a Young Man
San Tong Jue , my grandfather, arrived in America at the age of 13 , not speaking a word of English . Picking up the language quickly , he enrolled a few years later in Van Nuys High School . Let me have Auntie Soo-Yin tell the story of his high school years :
Van Nuys High School's curriculum and intellectual pursuits sparked San Tong's wonder, but they came to him packaged in strange ways. High School revealed to San Tong sports events, dances , picnics, school trips to Reseda's public pool- and those doors slammed in his face. Social initiation swelled for natives but not for sons of China. And San Tong tried to be American, he put to practice his learning of R.O.T.C in the School's open field until one day his drill instructor informed him that West Point , too , was out of the question for Chinese. Science became San Tong's passion as though to form in a glass tube the chemistry that would matter in his future . I tell you if the halls of ivy had opened a crack , San Tong would have met that challenge and he would have felt his mooring on some vital plane that he was seeking all his life . It once prompted, Oliver, the family attorney , to say to Joe , "The boy's got real promise ,Joe , why don't you send him to college? He really wants to learn."
"You no see what Chinese see." slid Joe's shudder. "No place for him out there, he stay home work on ranch!" To Joe success was born in rolling the earth's green foil- Joe had this to teach his sons, for they were the first Chinese family to pioneer the San Fernando Valley's heart.
(Click on photo to enlarge)
San Tong, Van Nuys HS: The Van Nuys High School Year Book of 1923. San Tong Jue is a student in the Freshmen A Class, he is standing in the back row, fifth person from the right side of the photo. The page illustrates San Fernando Valley's early Spanish colonial heritage, wild animals at the Griffith Park Zoo, and ducks swimming at Reseda Park's large duck pond.