Monday, June 14, 2010

San Tong tries to Start Over

San Tong Jue, Mexico

After the trial my "Ah Gung" , San Tong tries to start over having lost everything.

Auntie Soo-Jan writes :

"After the law suit, your Gung and my mother traveled to Florida to see if they could make a living there, but it didn’t work out. Then he went to Baja California and found that it was a good fit. He could speak the language. He had agricultural knowledge that can help the farmers there and he was well respected for that. Also, life in rural Mexico was more akin to life in China which was comfortable for him. He would return back to the States about every 6 months to be in accordance with visa paperwork. He would just drive up and appear at our doorsteps unannounced, stay for a few weeks or months, visit other children’s homes and then go back to Mexico. He had dual citizenship in both countries. My mother went down with him once and stayed for months, but because of her rheumatoid arthritis, it was difficult for her to travel around. My Mom came to live with Mel and I in 1965 and died in 1967. "

San Tong tries a number of business ventures in Mexico all of which are not very successful .
Late in life he is still trying to making a go of it .He pens this letter to Soo-Yin when he is 69 years of age .

"Dear Child, .... I have been so busy every since I came back to Mexico ... I keep inventing things to sell and working day and night trying to make a come back as quickly as I can ... I have so many irons in the fire one of them should turn out a money maker . .. As soon as the company starts making sales of soy sauce, I will start drawing salary. Right now I have about 25 thousand dollars worth of soy sauce all ready bottled and ready to sell , the only thing I am waiting for is the license and the labels. Keep your chin up , keep struggling . We will be all right very soon.
Love Father , April 5th, 1974"

Auntie Soo-Jan writes :

"In many ways, your Gung lived a very tragic life. His childhood was fragmented, he never got to choose what he wanted to do with his life, he had huge family responsibilities as a young man and many people to support, he lost two wives, the law suit divided his family and forced him into financial ruins. But in his life, he was immensely proud of his children. He could bark, but inwardly, he was a very sentimental man. After he died, we found in a suitcase, all sorts of mementos and letters from his children that he had kept all these years. He passed away in a very dignified manner, never complaining, took care of his own needs and even in his illness, tried not to disturb our lives too much. That was his independent nature. When he passed, a heavy load was lifted from his shoulders and he found peace. That is my view"


  1. Yes, I can remember the periodic visits by Gung Gung to our home in the San Fernando Valley. He would pull his trailer into our back yard and camp out for a few days. We didn't have any room in the house. I remember him spending hours talking with Dad in the living room about all his new business ideas.

    I can also remember many many years ago traveling down to Mexico to visit Gung Gung (San Tong Jue). A whole group of family went down to see his tea "factory". Unfortunately, my memory of this trip is not real good. All I remember is dusty roads and boxes of tea. I do remember leaving and hoping this venture would work for him.

  2. After the lawsuit San Tong spent hours in Jew Joe's cabin designing an "asparagus harvesting machine." It was a good machine that would eliminate back-breaking labor. But he couldn't get funding to build and market his idea. So he built his camper and traveled to Florida first with Ping, then later with Cousin Chan Lum Loon (father of Jimmy and Ming). He and Chan Lum spent months farming in the Everglades. But the mosquito infestation and lack of skilled workers in the region derailed their efforts. San Tong then went to Baja California as Auntie Soo-Jan had said, then to Tulancingo in Mexico, and finally back to La Paz in Baja California where he began his venture years earlier. In the "South of the Border" period of his life he invented many food products such as soy sauce, 5-spiced peanuts, sharks fin exporting, damiana tea, passion fruit champaign, Esther White piglets, thousand-year-old eggs, to name a few. He was always reading and working out formulas. I think his true calling was as a food scientist. Auntie Soo-Yin.