Friday, September 9, 2011

Howard Lee/ Samoa House Restaurant

Howard Lee at the Van Nuys Ranch

Howard Lee and the Jue girls -Joan, Soo-Jan , and Pingeleen at the Van Nuys Ranch

Auntie Joan:

Howard Lee was a friend of my father, well educated in China as a monk
and an intellectual. He spoke English fluently and well versed in business etc. He often traveled w/Dad on business. Later he partnered w/a white friend to open
a highly successful little restaurant called Samoa House.( chinese smoked ribs served hawaiian style) It did so well, they then opened a huge new place to
accomodate the crowd.

Auntie Soo-Yin
We all called Howard Lee, "Bo Kway Bak," which was his name in Cantonese. "Bo Kway," his name, and "Bak," which is a respectful title for an elderly person (like "Ah Bak" for Leong Shee because she was your great grandmother).
By the time I was born, Bo Kway Bak was an older man with all white hair. At Chinese New Year he would come to the Ranch and pass out "Lei Shee" red envelopes to my siblings and I. He was an old family friend and the friendship goes back a long long way.

Dad ( Jack Jue Sr.)
Howard Lee was my father's good friend in the past and I think he helped out on the farming during the war years and then yes,he was more of a business man and my father helped him start Samoa house , a Hawaiian BBQ rib place in Encino . It was a very trendy place. I worked there waiting on tables with a Hawaiian shirt to all the hoity toity who would come .
It was very successful. For many years, I can remember the ceiling fans running the whole length of the dinning area with fake palm trees and music playing softly in the background. In fact , Howard Lee wanted me to marry his daughter in China so she could come to America. Her picture showed she was good looking but I told my father I liked your mom , Alice, better. Later I think he and my father again were partners in starting a Chinese restaurant called Tang Hall in Reseda.
I always remember Samoa House because I went with Howard and my father to analyze other Hawaiian eateries such as Kelbos in Culver City. Samoa house was Chinese BBQ ribs and they were excellent!

Art Rony , a columnist in the LA times wrote before the Samoa house resturant opened :
"I don't know how mixed up things can get . But this'll do. Partners in the new Samoa House on Ventura Blvd. are a guy named Tex Loving who's spent most of his life in Hong Kong and Howard Lee , a Chinese Boy from Alpine , Texas ..."

Here is the original April 20, 1958 announcement of the new Samoa House restaurant opening .
(Click to enlarge)

Samoa House was a Valley institution and became a successful jazz club in the 1960's and 1970's ...

"The Valley was jumpin' with jazz spots as the 1970s dawned, ...

Everywhere you looked, from the East Valley to the West Valley, the landscape was dotted with jazz joints dating back to the '40s, '50s and '60s that were packing them in seven nights a week for some great music. There was the Shalimar Club,Ram's Horn, Dante's, Chadneys, Whittinghills, Alphonse's, Samoa House, Ruddy Duck, China Trader, Money Tree, Tail o' the Cock, Smoke House and many more.

Today, the old clubs are gone except for the Baked Potato and Monteleone's West in Tarzana.

Why so many popular jazz spots faded away has as many opinions as musicians have riffs. But there is one thing the club owners, musicians and band leaders agree on.

They'd all love to turn that clock back to the days when the Valley was a hotbed of great jazz, and just about every neighborhood had a club in it.

The place was swingin', they said.

``When I opened in '71 at Balboa Avenue and Ventura Blvd there was the Smoke House across the street with jazz, the Ram's Horn just east of me, Travaglini's Restaurant with its lounge down the block, and the Samoa House playing jazz about three blocks away,'' said Monteleone.... "

Friday, August 12, 2011

Original Art by Joan Jue Yen

My aunt, Joan Jue Yen, has recently created some wonderful new artwork that I would like to share. Please click on each picture to enlarge. Each artwork includes Chinese poetry. Auntie Joan has provided the translation of the poetry which I have included below each piece.

"Thinking of my Little Sons"

The first is called "Thinking of my Little Sons", and is a tribute to Jue Joe, San You and San Tong. After making his fortune in America , my great grandfather Jue Joe returns to China , marries Leong Shee and fathers his two sons, San You, and San Tong. His plan is to remain in China and farm and raise his family. Unfortunately, he must return to America to remake his fortune . He leaves China when his boys are just babies and does not see them or his wife again for 12 years. They are finally reunited in 1918.

Pony Boy, It's a Spring and we're still parted.
The orioles sing, as if to warm away our troubles.
Parted from you: suprised as your birthday passes.
Not a one to brag to of the clever things you do.
Water falls, there, by the empty mountain road.
By bramble gate, at Ancient trees, the village where
You dwell.
I think of you, and sleep's the only antidote for grief.
I toast my back, bent, bowed,
Beneath the smiling sunlight on the porch.
---Tu Fu (712-770) Tang Dynasty

"Gaze to the West"

Auntie Joan's second piece is a tribute to Leong Shee. Leong Shee marries Jue Joe, a returning "Gold Mountain Man" in an arranged marriage in China when she is only 17 and he is 42. She has two boys , San You and San Tong but soon after SanTong is born , her husband leaves once again for America. She is left a "Gold Mountain widow" and has to raise her sons herself for 12 years until she is finally reunited with her husband. America, however, is a very strange and lonely place for her at first and she dreams of China, her home.

Po K'e,
A night of meditation,
streams and valleys,
frozen fish and dragons,
sweeping past the river bank,
all swell and billow,
though heaven has loaned me it's bright moon,
flying above the jade clouds,
still I cannot see my home,
broken hearted ,
turn my gaze to the west .
---Li Po (701-762) Tang Dynasty

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jue Family at the Van Nuys Ranch- A Video Edit

My grandfather San Tong loved home movies. He loved making them and starring in them . The movies he made have been preserved by our family . Many thanks to my Auntie Soo-Jan for converting many of these home movies into digital format . I have edited some of these clips into a video of our family during the Van Nuys Ranch years (late 1930's to 1950's). In this video family members of all our generations will recognize fathers, and mothers, brothers and sisters , grandfathers and grandmothers , and great grandfathers and great grand mothers , and some of you will see yourselves. It is a time when our clan was whole . There are shots of my grandfather with his sisters, Dorothy and Corrine on a trip to Catalina , to make a movie at USC with his sister in law , and playing badminton on the lawn with a family friend . There are shots of Mama and Papa Kurihara , the beloved housekeeper and gardener on the ranch . My great grandmother, Leong Shee , Jue Joe's wife, is at the dinner table . There are pictures of my grandfather San Tong and his children on the ranch and the family frolicking in the huge swimming pool . There is my Uncle Guy as a young boy playing peek a boo, Auntie Soo -Jan making big bubbles with her bubble gum and earlier in a high chair,Auntie Soo-Yin on a tricycle and Auntie Pingeleen with a ribbon in her hair and a pretty dress. There are my father and mother and my Auntie Joan looking like movie stars. Later there are the grandchildren of San Tong including my brother and sisters and cousins climbing in a fallen tree on the ranch . The video ends with San Tong and Ping embracing in front of the camera. Thank you grandfather for this gift across the years for the generations to come . Your family has prospered . The memories you have given to us are timeless. We will all remember , our children will remember, and our children's children will remember ......

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Jue and Yen Family Plaques at the Angel Island Immigration Station

Yesterday , on July 23rd , 2011 , The Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation dedicated the Immigrant Heritage Wall on Angel Island . "For generations to come, this wall will serve as a reminder of the perseverance of our immigrant ancestors and the contributions they made to building a better America. The Immigrant Heritage Wall was created through the donations of over 600 individuals, and over 350 immigrants are honored on the plaques. Many of the Chinese and Asian immigrants were among thousands detained at the Angel Island Immigration Station between 1910 and 1940 during the era of racially discriminatory immigration laws." More information about the Angel Island immigration foundation and it's work can be found here.
My wife Liz, son Jordan, cousin Eric , his wife Karen, their son Elliott, Auntie-Soo Yin and Uncle Ed, Auntie Estelle and Uncle Miles attended the dedication.
(Click on pictures below to enlarge.)

Here is a picture of the crowd gathered for the ceremony on Angel Island

Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey whose district includes Angel Island and who has been instrumental in getting federal funding for Angel Island restoration spoke at the ceremony. Here is a transcript of her speech .
I have included some of her remarks below.

"The story of Angel Island is a story of America’s contradictions – the soaring idealism of our founding principles colliding with the sometimes-cruel reality of our conduct.

Imagine leaving the only home you’ve ever known and coming to a place where you don’t know the language or the culture or the way of life. All you know is that America is a different, special kind of place where things will hopefully be better. And after an arduous journey of several weeks, you reach this place you’ve heard so much about…only to face interrogation, humiliation and in many cases deportation.

Angel Island Immigration Station is a monument to the struggle and the dignity of these brave people. But I also see this place as a symbol of hope that America is self-correcting, that we can live up to our ideals; that we can deliver on the promise of equality, freedom and opportunity for everyone.

We haven’t completed that journey yet. We know that. We’re still grappling with the divisive, emotional issue of racism, and immigration remains an open wound in our society and our politics. But I do know that we’re closer than ever to realizing our nation’s promise, to living up to the creed e pluribus unum – “out of many, one.” America in 2011 embraces inclusion and diversity more than at any other moment in our history. Whatever the current differences over our immigration laws, we can be certain that anything as cruel as the Chinese Exclusion Act will never be repeated.

Let’s all work together to continue this path of progress toward moral justice. Let’s look to the past to shape a more decent future. Inspired by the stories etched into these walls, let’s create a country worthy of the people who came to Angel Island looking for the American Dream. "

Here is picture of the Immigration Station Museum Building

Here is a picture of the Immigrant Heritage Wall

Here are Soo-Yin , Eric and Elliott at the wall. The Jue family plaque is just to the right of Elliott's hand and the Yen Plaque is two plaques to the right .
My Auntie Joan ,San Tong Jue's eldest daughter, married Richard Yen , whose father was Harry Yen. The Yen family sponsored the plaque honoring Harry Yen and his wife Soo Hoo Shee Yen . The Jue family sponsored the plaque honoring San Tong Jue , Jue Joe, Leong Shee , and San You Jue , whose stories are the subject of this blog .

Here is the Jue Family Plaque

Here is the Yen family plaque

The Yens settled in Phoenix Arizona. Here is my cousin Bob Yen speaking about his paternal grandfather during a local television interview about Arizona's Chinese pioneers :
"The first person on my father's side of the family was his father. So my grandfather, his name was Harry Yen. His Chinese name, I think is Ong Hep Lo. And you can tell already that the family name is different. He had a family name of "Ong." we are actually Ongs. Unfortunately, my grandfather's father was not in the United States . My grandfather therefore took the name of a distant family member, a Mr. Yuen, Y-U-E-N, took those papers, these false papers, came to the United Sates as the son of this merchant, Mr. Yuen. He came here when he was 17 years old in 1915, just three years after Arizona Statehood. And the story that he told me about his migration was that he got on a sailing ship, it was a 30-day journey at the time to come here. And he landed in San Francisco , at Angel Island . He joined his brother -- we always called him Uncle Sing -- who lived in Glendale at the time and who had a grocery store there. He said that Phoenix in 1915 was a different place than what we know now. There were no air conditioning units, no evaporative coolers, and his first impression of Phoenix on stepping off the train was this was like hell! LOL "

The extended Yen/Ong family also sponsored a plaque for my uncle Richard Yen's brother Cobb Ong and Cobb's wife Ying.

Here is a view of the restored detention barracks and immigration station museum

Here is a picture of boys getting physical exams at the station. My grandfather, San Tong was 13 years old at the time he , his mother and brother were detained here on Angel Island . They remained on the island for 3 months while Jue Joe worked to secure their release .

Speakers at the dedication as well as the museum exhibits themselves served to educate the public about the harsh and discriminatory nature of immigration laws and practices that targeted Chinese immigrants and led to a much different reception for immigrants arriving here then those arriving at Ellis Island on the East Coast. Part of the work of the Angel Island Immigration Foundation is to celebrate the lives of those immigrants who perservered despite these racial descriminatory practices to make a life here in America for themselves and their families and for the generations to come. A new online "Immigrant Voices" section of the Foundation website gives voice to the stories of these immigrant pioneers. I have submitted a story about Jue Joe that hopefully will soon be posted on the web page.

The island is beautiful but for many immigrants like my grandfather it was also a prison and their fervent hope was to leave the island and begin their lives in the new world beyond it's shores as soon as possible.

After the dedication we and other families gathered at Four Seas restaurant in San Francisco's Chinatown . Auntie Soo-Yin was kind enough to host our family's table. The food was delicious !

To thank Eric for his efforts in getting the Jue Family Plaque placed on Angel Island , Auntie Soo Yin presented him with a framed piece of Chinese calligraphy that contains the three historical sonnets of the Sung (Zhao, Jue)dynasty with the new generation's names added . This was truly a special day for all of us !

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Additional Pictures of "Posie"-Leong Shee

"Posie"(Leong Shee) was Jue Joe's wife , mother to Corrine, grandmother to Soo-Jan, mother-in-law to Ping and my great-grandmother.
We have discussed her life in this previous post and in this post which explores her time in China as a "Gold Mountain Wife ".
Here are some additional photos of "Posie" with Corrine, Ping and Soo-Jan from Auntie Soo-Yin's collection

My Auntie Soo-Jan and "Posie".

Ping,Posie, and Corrine

Here is a picture from Auntie Joan's collection ..
Posie with her grandchildren Jack Sr . and Soo-Yin

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mama and Papa Kurihara

Mama and Papa Kurihara with the Jue girls, Soo-Jan, Pingeleen, and Soo-Yin

Papa Kurihara adjusting the sprinkler head

(thanks for the great photos from your scrapbook, Auntie Joan !)

Mama Kurihara being camera shy!

After Pearl Harbor, Mama and Papa Kurihara were incarcerated at Heart Mountain, Wyoming, from 1942 to 1945. The conditions were harsh for them, being Issei (immigrants). The camp had 468 bldgs. divided into 20 blocks with each block having 2 communal toilets. They lived in a 16'x20' tarpapered clapboard cabin. When war ended, they were released and given $25 and train tickets. They had lost everything and were too old to start over. Hearing of their destitution San Tong gave them Jue Joe's cabin to live in--rent free. The childless couple became part of our extended family. - Auntie Soo-Yin.

(Footnote- there is an inaccuracy in the above video concerning the word "Issei". As Auntie Soo-Yin points out, Mama and Papa Kurihara were Issei. "Issei (一世, first generation) is a Japanese language term used in countries in North America, South America and Australia to specify the Japanese people first to immigrate. Their children born in the new country are referred to as Nisei (second generation), and their grandchildren are Sansei (third generation). All of them come from the numbers "one, two, three" in the Japanese language, as Japanese numerals are "ichi, ni, san.")

Arrival at Heart Mountain, Wy: After Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, Mama and Papa Kurihara (not sure of spelling) were sent to Heart Mountain Relocation Camp in Wyoming, according to Auntie Joan. They were Issei, meaning that they had emigrated from Japan. They were an elderly couple who had no children. The living conditions were primitive and the weather was harsh in Winter, recalled the couple. But Mama and Papa Kurihara survived, and when the war was over, the elderly couple returned to Los Angeles only to find that all their possessions had been taken away. Penniless, the couple turned to San Tong for help, a friend had asked San Tong if he could help them. And San Tong gave the elderly couple Jue Joe's former cabin rent-free to live in. By this time Jue Joe's cabin had acquired a wooden floor and many amenities.

Heart Mountain Barrack: According to Mamoru Inouye, a former internee, "...the evacuation was just a culmination of what had been going on for 40 years on the West Coast, beginning with alien land law and the Chinese exclusion act...." Photographers Hansel Mieth and Otto Hagel worked for Life magazine. Mieth now lives in Santa Rosa, California. Hagel died in 1974.

From "Legend of Zhao" by Soo-Yin Jue

I see Mama and Papa Kurihara sobbing aboard the "Star of Yokohama". From their deck amid bright-colored streamers they're waving white hankies to us as we stand on the concrete deck below. At the Port of Los Angeles we had elbowed through its enormous crowds. How peculiar for me to watch this old , childless couple surrender to their fusillade of feelings as I've never seen them do before. From the moment of my existence they'd been in my life.

Thursdays and I would hear the fish man roar his green truck onto our gravel driveway. The fish man knew to toss Bingo ,our dog , a squid while Mother and Mama examined a rock cod. And I knew I would soon taste delectable pearls from the sea at suppertime. To the fish man who spoke to me in single syllables, I was a prattler intensely off-key, for I gave him Japanese quite messed up. But Mama would intervene on my behalf correcting my gibberish and laughing hard. She sang folk songs and shuffled pigeon-toed on our kitchen floor in a dance that told me of far away places. Mama was our housekeeper who brought to us Japan as in a doll's house.

Papa was our gardener. Suddenly, white gardenias bloomed to perfume the grace of our broad front porch; irises drew their purple swords to guard our walkways of red brick; bushes of roses and hyacinths and camellias, columns of cypress tress, the curving green fur that licked along our grounds- they all grew up with the poetry of Papa.

When World War II ended the old Japanese couple came to stay with us , having no way to restart their lives. Mama and Papa dreamed of returning to Japan; to their old life. "I want to see Japan before the sun grows dark on us, " said Papa. I begged him not to leave, but he explained to me, "We are old and can only think of the passings of soft seasons."

Last week, before they left, they pressed into my hand a tea cup chipped in places along the brim. Mama turned that chipped tea cup clockwise and I tasted her green brew delicate as the Meiji's moon. They made a gift to me of this hand-thrown artifact, which was the only treasure that the couple owned. With reverence, Papa then produced a bowl of sticky, red-beaned rice. "The color red means good luck", he said.

I can no longer see the "Star of Yokohama". The dock stands empty and the Santa Ana winds begin to clap.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

San Tong's Ford Roadster

Ford Model T Roadster, 1926
Smithsonian Institution, Photo by Jeff Tinsley, Negative #: 2003-32651

"When San Tong became a young man in the 1920s, and before he married Rose, he wanted what all young American men dreamed of having. A sportscar! He saved every penny and bought himself a Ford Roadster. He was so proud of it. (I remember seeing a photo of him waving his hand from out the car's window.) But later he couldn't make a monthly payment of $50. So he asked his father Jue Joe for the $50. "My father wanted to teach me a lesson," recalled San Tong to me with a smile, "he wanted me to learn to live within my means, so Pa said to me, 'NO!" Just like that. What could I do? I hid the car every night on different streets so it wouldn't get repossessed. Finally, I got so tired of doing this that I just left my car where it was and let it be repossessed." Jue Joe had many lessons to teach San Tong. After San You died, Jue Joe began training San Tong to be a marketman. "I was scared," recalls San Tong to me, "I didn't know how to negotiate and buy additional produce to add to ours at the Produce Exchange on San Pedro Street. So I would buy, for example, carrots and pay too high a price for them and then my father would chew me out. That was his way of teaching me. Throw me into a pool and let me sink or swim. He was a cranky guy. When I learned to do well he never said so. When I made a mistake, wow, he let me have it." Auntie Soo-Yin.

Here is nice video history of Henry Ford's Model T.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jue Joe's Pierce Arrow Car

(Click on picture to enlarge )

Jue Joe was all his life a simple man who was humble and avoided most luxuries even when he could afford them . He lived until his death in a one room cabin with a dirt floor . He did allow himself one special treat however:

"One day my father, San Tong, told me about Jue Joe's Pierce Arrow car. This was the only luxury that Jue Joe ever bought for himself. The 1932 or '33 Pierce Arrow towncar was black with chrome detailing. Its interior upholstery was red-tufted velvet and had a chauffer's seat separated by a glass window. There was a phone inlaid with Mother of Pearl that connected the chauffer to the passenger seat in the rear. And the Pierce Arrow model had two chrystal lamps on each side of the exterior front. Jue Joe was a pragmatist: With the Pierce Arrow's 125-horse power engine, he ripped out its backseat, he tied ropes to its back fender, and he used the car to uproot trees in order to clear his fields for cultivation- Auntie Soo Yin"

My Dad remembers that Jue Joe did not drive himself and was always chauffered. His chauffer was his grand nephew Chan Lum (Loon) who he had helped emigrate from China and who lived at the ranch .
More details on the Pierce- Arrow : (Thanks Uncle Ed , for the fine research and picture)
1932 Pierce-Arrow: "The name Pierce Arrow was one of the most recognized and respected names in the automobile industry. For 38 years the Pierce Arrow Motor Company of Buffalo, New York crafted some of the world's finest automobiles. In their time, Pierce Arrows could be found anywhere the rich and famous worked and played. For twenty years, Pierce Arrow was the official White House Presidential car. The company also supplied cars to the royal families of Japan, Persia, Saudi Arabia, Greece, and Belgium. Scores of congressmen, ambassadors, governors, entertainers and corporate executives chose Pierce Arrows." (Swope's Museum.)

Jue Joe's Pierce-Arrow Town Car was a A V12 4-door 7-passenger limousine. A divider window separated the chauffer's seat from the passenger's cab. The Pierce-Arrow's mascot was the famous Archer, and crystal headlamps were mounted atop the front fenders.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

St. Helena Historical Society-" From Canton to St. Helena"

Last evening I attended a wonderful program organized by the St. Helena Historical Society, "From Canton to St. Helena -Chinese Immigration in the Nineteenth Century ." My wife Liz and my Auntie Soo-Yin and her husband Ed were also in attendance.
In a previous post I have discussed Jue Joe's early years working in the vineyards around St. Helena .
Last night's program included famed Chinese American historian Philip P. Choy giving a great overview of Chinese immigration from Canton to California in the 19th century and earlier.
This was followed by a fantastic presentation by St. Helena historian Mariam Hansen who has spent many hours pouring over old microfilm records of the St. Helena Star Newspaper archived by the historical society. Mariam gave a wonderful talk about the history of the Chinese in St. Helena. She also has complied a wonderful timeline of the Chinese in St. Helena which is fascinating . I have included it below. I was happy to be able to share some stories about Jue Joe with the attendees as well . I have included a written summary of my remarks after Mariam's time line . The summary adds some additional information to the comments I made at the St. Helena get together .

Here is a transcript of Mariam's talk :
I’m going to focus on St. Helena’s Chinese heritage.
In 1868 the Napa Valley Railroad construction crews reached St. Helena. They needed large amounts of gravel from our gravel quarry to lay down the base for the tracks.
Although a few Chinese were previously living in Napa, the need for a large labor force to move gravel brought the first large group of Chinese immigrants to the upper Napa Valley. They were housed where they worked, next to the gravel pit, which is now owned by Harold Smith & Sons.
In the economic downturn of 1873, wine sales dropped. Vineyardists wanted to cut costs and have a large labor force available whenever needed. A request to a labor contractor in San Francisco would bring a train car load of men on the next day’s train.
In 1872 it was written “grapes in the northern portion of the state are picked by Chinamen, who will pick an average of 1500 pounds a day. They board themselves and are paid $1 a day” (overland monthly Jan 1872 p41). During a time of huge increase in vineyard development here, a large farm labor force was needed to clear land and plant vines.
The contribution of Chinese to the wine industry was not publicized in those days. When Harper’s Weekly published a drawing of the harvest of 1878 showing Chinese stomping grapes with their feet, the industry was outraged. Partially because of the unclean image, but also because grapes were in fact crushed in a press.
Only when an accident or death was reported, were vintners who employed Chinese named in the newspaper. A man got his finger caught in a grape crusher owned by St. Helena’s first mayor Henri Pellet in 1876.
Chinese also worked in fields, hopyards and mines. Some were household servants, cooks, laundrymen, merchants and clerks. They dug the caves at Beringer and Schramsberg. About 100 Chinese worked on the railroad between Napa and St. Helena in 1880. The Sage Canyon Road, now hwy 128, was being graded by 125 Chinese in 1886.
There were some who spoke English, became labor contractors, and developed good relations with grape and hops growers, mining companies, builders and quarries. Quong Goon Loong was one and he also sold tea, sugar, rice, slippers, and bamboo hats. Wah Chung was a prominent labor contractor in 1875. At harvest time he had 300 men waiting to harvest grapes and hops, so many that the 3 wells went dry in Chinatown. Wah Chung had business cards printed by the St. Helena Star printers.
The ghetto was located on what is now West Charter Oak Avenue, set back from Main Street and parallel with it, described as a smoky dragon. It was the first thing a visitor would see on approaching St. Helena. Home to about 400 men at its height, there were open sewers and slaughtering between the shacks.
Chinese were not allowed to own property, so their landlord was John Gillam, who provided rude, hastily thrown up shacks made of scrap lumber. By 1870 there was a China store and Cantonese restaurant (Dillon p224). By 1884 there were boarding houses, a hotel, more stores, the employment office and a Taoist temple.
Ginger’s China Store was in business for 25 years and contracted labor. His ad in 1877 read “Chinese help furnished-San Sing at Ginger’s will furnish all kinds of Chinese help. Good men at cheap prices.” Mow Hing advertised “Charley’s Wash House” on Oak Avenue every week in the newspaper in 1875, promising “no mistakes”.
In 1882 the delinquent tax list included a long list of locals, but also Ah Jim, Hop Wah &Co, Mow Fung, Yee Kay, Quong Yuen Lung, and Quong, Wing & Co.
Chinatown’s Taoist temple was completed in 1891, located at western end of the ghetto. A grand dedication was held with entertainment by a Chinese band from Napa. During the three days 10 roast pigs were consumed by the over 100 attendees. The newspaper described the interior: “ a large table with a bronze pedestal topped by a gold-mounted dragon, surrounded by four bronzed vases and several incense burners. On both sides of the room were two long boards artistically painted with the names of the Napa and Calistoga members engraved there on. The building cost $5000, all donated.
White locals objections stemmed from the bad impression visitors got from Chinatown’s location at the approach to town. But it also stemmed from Chinese willingness to work for lower wages and longer hours than whites, plus they did not expect room and board. Local merchants were incensed that Chinese only shopped in Chinese stores.
The Anti-Chinese movement spread throughout California. In 1877 slumlord Gillam received a letter threatening to burn down Chinatown if he not stop employing Chinese workers. The letter was printed in the newspaper, written by a barely literate agitator.
The St. Helena Star contributed to the hysteria by writing things like “tallow colored rat eaters of the celestial kingdom are buying many guns in Napa” and “the filthy den of disease breeding Chinamen”. A group of St. Helenans attended a speech by Denis Kearney, the labor rabble rouser, in Napa in 1878, riding there in a rail car decorated with a banner declaring “Chinese must go!”
Editorials often espoused hiring white men and boys for farm labor instead of Chinese. In December 1885 300 locals met at city hall and formed an Anti-Coolie league. Vintners cautioned that the grape harvest would not happen without Chinese labor. The Knights of Labor passed around a petition in 1886 in support of restricting Chinese immigration.
By February 1886 the Anti-Coolie league decided the best way to remove Chinatown was to buy it. Four members, Sciaroni, Simmons, Logan and Davis, pooled funds and obtained title from John Gillam. The Chinese Six companies almost beat them with a higher price. The four had acquired another property elsewhere and requested all Chinese to move there within 30 days, offering free rent for 99 years. Merchants proved they had valid leases, hired a Napa lawyer, and refused to move. The case went to US District Court, was drawn out for several years, during which time no rent was paid and the tenants stayed.
The Chinese were very willing to share their culture. Ginger organized the Chinese New Year festivities for several years, providing fireworks and inviting the whole town with an ad in the newspaper. Local residents often attended the elaborate funerals. When Lee Hau, a prominent St. Helena resident, was killed by a falling tree at Niebaum’s farm in 1894, his extraordinary funeral was attended by many locals. After a long service in Chinatown, the body was conveyed to the cemetery with a procession consisting of a wagon filled with foods for the afterlife, a hearse accompanied by six Chinese men and 50 men wearing bands of red and white. There were about 10 vehicles and another band at the end. A Chinese section at the cemetery had a large number of plots near the creek. It was important to every Chinese man to be buried with his ancestors. The bodies of those who could afford it were exhumed later and sent home.
There are several reasons the large Chinese population of St. Helena disappeared. The violence and discrimination throughout the state made many feel vulnerable and they moved to larger cities.
About the time Chinese were demanding higher wages, Italian immigrants began to arrive in the early 1880s. They replaced the Chinese for another reason too: grape vines began to be planted with the trunks pruned to waist height to protect delicate vines from frost and heat. A taller man could harvest the crop without stoop labor. (Heintz p176).
A series of fires damaged Chinatown and finally destroyed it completely. The 1884 fire started in the upper floor of Quon Loong High China Store, which was a sleeping quarter. The big fire lit up the whole night sky and was in a line of “four old rookeries sitting back from the street”. Three Chinese stores and lodging houses with their contents were destroyed. The landlord was uninsured, but quickly rebuilt the stores at the tenants’ urging. The 1898 fire was caused by a resident who, after cooking his dinner over an open fire, left the fire burning unattended. Half of the ghetto, 8 buildings, was completely destroyed.
Four stores lost everything, including cash on hand. The responsible party was ejected by his angry neighbors. Finally in 1911 the last fire burned the eight remaining buildings, causing $7000 loss. The landlords who bought the property with the intent of evicting the residents in 1886, finally got their wish 25 years later.

Here is Mariam's timeline of Chinese in St. Helena :
1857-61 Chinese begin working for grape growers in Napa & Sonoma
1860 45,000 Chinese in Calif-20,000 miners, 20k railroad, 5k misc
1862 Anti-chinese "Coolie" Clubs exist as political groups
1867 most wheat labor done by Chinese and Indians
1869 Railroad jobs end-10K C.unemployed, move to agric areas
1870 Chinese are 10% of farm laborers
1871 Chinese harvesting grapes in Napa Valley
1872 Jan Overland Monthly writes "grapes in the northern portion of the state are picked by Chinamen, who will pick an average of 1500 pounds per day"
1874 24-Jan Anti-chinese anarchists set fire to Occidental Winery hay barn
1874 12-Nov Locals are outraged that Chinese have requested to use public schools in the evening for classes, when they don't pay taxes.
1874 10-Dec "tallow colored rat eaters of the celestial empire buy guns, shoot their way to the Flowery kingdom"
1875 19-Aug Wah Chung, the labor contractor, says he has 300 Chinese waiting to pick grapes
1875 26-Aug There are so many Chinese in Chinatown waiting to pick grapes and hops, all 3 wells have gone dry
1875 At harvest time 300 Chinese arrived in SH, contracted to pick grapes
1876 22-Apr Quong Goon Loong advertises "China Labor Furnished", and China goods for sale
1876 1-Sep SF Chronicle condemns use of Chinese for grape harvest, when 3000 unemployed boys 16-20 yrs old are willing to work for $15-20 a month.
1876 1-Sep Charles Storey began picking hops with 60 Chinamen employed
1876 15-Sep H.A. Pellet (first mayor of SH) owns Manzanita Winery. His Chinamen got his finger caught in a grape crusher
1876 20-Sep Editorial espouses hiring local boys for vineyard work, not Chinamen.
1877 25-May Slumlord Gillam received a threatening letter, saying his premises will be torched because he employs Chinese (he doesn't)
1877 8-Jun Chinaman killed at Rudolf Lemme's La Perla Winery when a hillside collapsed on him as he was excavating for a wine cellar.
1877 27-Jul "San Sing, at Ginger's China Store, furnishes help for cooking, railroad work, chopping wood, etc. at Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena, Calistoga. Good men at cheap prices!"
1877 29-Jul Chinaman working for John Lewelling burned a pile of brush, which got out of control due to dry conditions. Heavy fire damage.
1878 8-Feb Chinese residents invite the public to a "Grand Display of Fire Crackers" on Sunday at 4pm"
1878 7-Jun "Workingmen's Picnic" held in Napa with Denis Kearney, supremacist organizer as speaker. A load of St. Helenans rode south in a large bus decorated with a sign "Chinese Must Go".
1878 30-Sep "Ginger" the Chin merchant went bankrupt, debts of $1000
1878 majority of farm labor in Napa Valley still white
1879 22-Mar Mock You, married 28 yrs old woman died at Rutherfordof natural causes- no obituary
1879 9-May Editorial writes of Harpers Weekly "the paper did its best to break down the wine interest of California..with your fancy sketch of Chinamen treading out the wine with their feet"
1879 new Calif constritution discriminates against Chinese
1880 30-Jan Chinese laborers are plenty. Don’t patronize local merchants. Send money to china. Complaints about them always finding work.
1880 10-Sep 100 Chinamen working on the railroad between Napa and St. Helena. When poll taxes were due,they refused to pay. Railroad workers pass poll tax receipts from one to another, so that 100 receipts will do for 2000 Chinamen.
1881 28-Jan "John Weinberger made wine from wild grapes, but his Chinese drank it all (Chinese must go)"
1881 27-Jun Citizens "will be glad to know that..effort is being made to remove the filthy den of disease breeding Chinamen from the main street to a more retired situation..the entrance to town is marred by stench, noisy confusion, fighting, etc.
1881 list of Cal Italian vine growers: 141
1882 13-Jan Eddie Butler murdered at Occidental Winery by two Chinese who demanded payment of their wages. Butler refused to pay until the wine was sold.
1882 10-Mar Large anti-chinese meeting held at the Palace Hotel. Resolutions supported bills in Congress restricting Chinese immigration of persons who are "a curse and a blight upon the industries and morals of this country"
1882 2-Jun Newspaper warns against a white mechanic teaching his Chinese assistant,enabling him to undercut the price of white man's work.
1882 15-Sep Chinese worker on Ink's farm brutally assaulted. Editor urges prompt prosecution of the evil perpetrators, who are not named.
1882 20-Oct Chinese labor camp at the Washington Mine in Pope Valley burned down. Chin miners lived separately from whites.
1882 Oct Witness for prosecution Ah Chuck in Butler case was murdered in San Francisco
1882 24-Nov Ad for Quong On Lee's Chinese Intelligence Office-Men for picking, clearing, ditching, chopping,etc. Look for house in back of stores in Chinatown
1883 17-Jul Edwin Angwin rented land on Howell Mtn to Chinese farmers, who raised over $300 worth of strawberries on half acre.
1883 3-Aug Town marshal and a large posse of citizens arrest 13 gamblers,while about 50 escape. Prisoners are marched up Main Street, escorted by 100 or so whites, and put in jail.
1883 10-Aug "Celestial lawbreakers" have all pleaded guilty to gambling: casino owner fined $30, each gambler $15. Four were unable to pay and remain in jail.
1883 26-Oct Local boys assaulted an old Chinaman on Main Street in SH. Four boys arrested, given stern warning by judge and released. Editor warns these incidents will tarnish town's good name.
1883 2-Nov "Lively rumpus in Chinatown resulted in Ah Chung hitting Ah Kate over the head with a revolver. Ah Chung was arrested by Officer mcGee and brought before Judge Elgin, Fined $25. Being unable to pay, he went to jail in Napa."
1883 26-Nov Police raided a gambling parlor in Chinatown
1883 Napa County collected poll tax from 400 Chinese
1884 3-Jan "A gang of 15-20 men mounted on horse back and mules rode through town looking like a bunch of lawless Indians. They rushed into Chinatown, frightening a team of horses hitched to a Chinese vegetable peddler's wagon, causing a runaway and smashup"
1884 13-Mar Chinese Free Masons met in Justice Hunt's court to initiate 13 members, there being no hall in Chinatown large enough. 40 prominent Chinese from other parts in their brightly colored costumes conducted the ceremony, followed by a feast and fireworks.
1884 14-Jan Charles Krug has a gang of Chinamen on Howell Mtn clearing forest fo plant grape vines
1884 31-Jan Residents complain of their chickens being stolen by Chinese who are preparing the Chinese New Years feast.
1884 3-Mar 3,000 Chinese cigar factory workers were fired in San Francisco
1884 7-Apr Chinese man of high standing died of consumption, given a stately funeral procession with band, hearse, 50-75 men on foot, wagon with food for afterlife, 4 leading merchants of Chinatown.
1884 14-Apr Editorial complaining Chinese increasing wage demands from $1 to 1.50 per day. Alleged that Chinese contractors skim off a large share from the laborers.
1884 14-Aug Huge fire in Chinatown started in upper story of Quon Loong High China Store. Hook & Ladder boys arrived, followed by the hose company. 3 stores, lodging houses and contents destroyed. $5000 total lost.
1884 18-Aug Slumlord John Gillam is rebuilding new store on site of fire. The other stores will be rebuilt at once, as tenants are waiting.
1884 8-Sep Ah Choo died. Service held at temple in Chinatown, 100 men marched to the cemetery in fine costume, Musicians played at the grave in rites of their secret society.
1884 15-Dec movement afoot to evict all Chinese from their tenements and wash houses
1884 Fire in Chinatown
1884 Napa County collected poll tax from 500 Chinese
1885 16-Feb Chinatown "den of infamy" constructed in Chinatown, 2 story 10X12 foot building a disgrace to the town.
1885 19-Feb Chinese New Year began Saturday, when our "celestials" are good natured, giving candy, nuts and cigars to white friends.
1885 23-Apr Old Chinese man was run over by the train while walking on the tracks. No name given.
1885 4-Sep Editorial encouraging hiring white men tramping the roads looking for work, saying they work harder than Chinese and spend their money in white owned stores.
1885 4-Dec Sh protest against Chinamen held and Anti-Chinese League formed by 300-400 taxpayers, prominent citizens who want to rid the town by any lawful means. Editor cautions that grapes could not be harvested without them.
1885 11-Dec Anti-Coolie League of SH has 300 members. Rumor that Mongolians are preparing to leave town. League meets at city hall. VP-H.C. Rammers, Sec-A.B. Swartout, Sgtat arms-A.B. Williams.
1885 11-Dec Chinaman arrested for riding his horse on the sidewalk due to a passing funeral. Employer Parrott hired a lawyer to defend him. Charges dropped.
1885 18-Dec Editorial urges boycott of Chinese vegetable peddlers, servants and laundrymen. The Anti-Chinese League held a regualr meeting at city hall. Dr Davis evicted his Chinese tenants.
1885 Napa County collected poll tax from 687 Chinese
1886 2-Feb 300 Anti-Coolie marchers descend on Chinatown and demand residents leave in 10 days, residents lock up and leave, bosses requested to listen to group's demands. Vintners urge restraint, as other sources of farm labor not available.
1886 12-Feb Slumlord John Gillam writes to editor defending his ownership of Chinatown, saying the rents support his family. "No Chinatown in state is so well located but out of the way as SH"
1886 12-Feb Vineyardists call meeting to discuss labor question. Speakers say violence against Chinese is wrong, threats against employers is un-American, demanding they leave Chinatown is unlawful, labor and employers should coopeate on a solution, and all should find another site for Chinatown.
1886 19-Feb "Chinatown sold-Moon-eyed Denizens must find other quarters"-Anti-Coolie league reps buy property, narrowly beating out the Chinese Six Companies who were willing to pay more. Buyers are Simmons, Logan, Sciaroni and Davis
1886 9-Apr Anti-Chinese meeting held at Turner Hall, 400-500 locals attend, urge opening a white employment agency, urge boycott of those who employ Chinese.
1886 9-Apr New owners of Chinatown complain Chinese refuse eviction by showing their leases and hiring a lawyer. Deny accusations they bought to collect the high rents from the Chinese, but were fulfilling wishes of the town.
1886 9-Jul A new road from Rutherford to Lake County is being graded by 125 Chinamen, presently working in Sage Canyon.
1886 wheat gone, first trainload of fruit shipped east
1886 17-Sep Height of harvest, roads lined with grape wagons. Difficult to get enough white men and Chinese to work. "Chinese are insolent and are asking $1.25/day. They must be treated with respect, or they quit."
1886 Chinese are 88% of farm laborers
1886 24-Dec Logan & Sciaroni, owners of Chinatown, defend their actions and attempt to move Chinese residents to another piece of property, tenants owe 6 mos rent, hired a lawyer, case in US District Court.
1887 7-Jan Marshal Spurr & deputies raid Chinatown lottery game,capture 3 celestials with lottery box & tickets, Chinese deny charges.
1887 7-Jan Ah Joey is in the county jail for stealing and tried to hang himself with his queue. Henry Lange opend the Napa Valley Laundry. Ad proclaims "No Chinese Employed"
1887 14-Jan Chinese arrested last week plead guilty , pay fines, released
1887 1-Jul Fire at Dr. Dawsons started when a boy threw a firecracker on the roof. His Chinese servant put it out
1887 2-Sep Chinese hop pickers demand $1.25/day and strike. Editor urges white boys and girls to apply for work.
1887 23-Sep great scarcity of vineyard labor. Whites pd $2/day, Chin $1.25, some demand $1.50
1887 30-Sep Chinese grape pickers strike in Rutherford-want $1.50/day
1888 1-Jun Chinatown landlords still in court in procedural issue. W.T. Simmons may drop the case, collect rents until leases expire.
1888 29-Jul Yung Hong Sing died at Josephine Tychson's of burns
1888 Northern Italians from Genoa, Lombardy, Turin begin arriving to work
1889 8-Mar Editor of newspaper says Ch gambling unchecked in Ch-town
1889 9-Aug
1890 24-Jan Deputy Constable Frank Sciaroni (part owner of Chinatown) requests residents not to light firecrackers at night, waking people up. Can light all they want in the daytime. At 2am they do it anyway. Town govment passes new law.
1891 1-Oct remains of 3 Chinese removed from SH Cem to China
1893 23-Jul Tong Sing died at Josephine Tychson's of burns-body sent to China
1893 17-Aug White laborers union formed, fight C. workers in prune orchards
1894 11-Jan Lee Han died at Niebaum Winery when a tree fell on him
1896 7-Jan Won You died in Rutherford of rheumatism at 70
1897 12-Mar Sam Kee was denied a permit to open a laundry on Pope Street near the railroad tracks. New city ordinance. Aetna Mine report describes Chinese laborers drilling holes for dynamite.
1897 45,625 Italians in Calif operate 2,726 farms
1899 17-Dec Qung Sing Lung General Store & Laundry sold to Wah Chung, who will not honor debts of seller. Ginger departs for China.
1913 2-Jun remains of 20 Chinese removed from SH Cem to China
1920 50% of farm labor is Mexican
1921 Portugese operate 8000 farms in Cal
1939 21-Jan Ah Joe last on list of Chinese burials, died at 89 in SH of heart ailment

Jue Joe (1860 to 1941) - St. Helena Resident circa 1878 to 1886

remarks by Jack Jue Jr. Great Grandson
"Descendant of the 2nd emperor of the Song Dynasty (Zhao Gunagyi), Jue Joe was born and raised in a chicken coop, in 1860. He grew up dirt poor and vowed that his descendants would never suffer as he had. So at the age of 14 he sailed alone to California, working as a cabin boy, and jumped ship in San Francisco. He sailed with 16 lbs of rice and landed with 1/4 lb left. So he went to the Chinese Six Companies for help. They sent him to St. Helena and Marysville to work the vineyards."-Auntie Soo-Yin

After arriving in San Francisco in 1874 at the age of 14 Jue Joe was first sent to work in the vineyards of Marysville in the central valley .
“Marysville had a fairly large Chinese population between 1850 and 1900 in comparison to other towns in the Northern Sacramento Valley. In businesses, it was ranked among the busiest and largest in the Northern Sacramento Valley and, at times, ranked second only to San Francisco.
Marysville's Chinatown, which is one of the oldest in the United States still in existence, was ideally located, offering merchandising services to mining camps to the north and east. It was regularly supplied with goods and materials by river boats via the Sacramento and Feather Rivers and stage coaches.
According to a business directory of Wells Fargo Bank in 1878, Marysville's Chinatown boasted some two dozen Chinese firms.

The Chinese found abundant employment in the mines in the early days. Soon after their first appearance, a prejudice against them began to gain ground among the miners, although with a few exceptions, they were allowed to work peaceably on their claims. After claims were deserted by white miners, the economical Chinese located them again, and by diligent toil managed to make them pay handsomely
When the railroad construction and mining activities diminished, many of the Chinese moved to Marysville and into the surrounding areas, working at various occupations. They worked as gardeners, toiled in clearing some of the present-day irrigation canals, labored on hop and other farms, cooked and laundered clothes., and worked in local wineries."
Unfortunately the 1870's were a period of severe anti Chinese agitation in the Marysville area.and elsewhere. Jue Joe arrived in the United States in 1874 just as anti Chinese sentiment against coolie labor was reaching a fever pitch . He spent his early years living and working in a California in which a race war against his countrymen was at its peak . The anti -chinese era was fueled by a depressed economy in which out of work white laborers scapegoated Chinese laborers as the cause of their problems . Mob violence , burning of Chinatowns, and rioters driving Chinese laborers out of towns were regular occurences in California in the 1870's and 1880's .

How Jue Joe survived and succeeded against all odds is a fascinating story.

Just as Jue Joe arrived in Marysville the area was undergoing an economic downturn with many Caucasians out of work . The Chinese were natural scapegoats . In Chico just north of Marysville. , the Supreme Order of Caucasians was formed and began harassing the Chinese and employers who continued to hire Chinese .Just 3 years after Jue Joe's arrival in Marysville , the infamous Lemm Ranch Murders occured in Chico . On the night of March 14, 1877 six Chinese farm workers were in their bunk house. Six caucasian men burst in , drew their revolvers shot the farm workers point blank, drenched the farm workers clothes in oil and then set fire to the oil drenched clothes torching the cabin and fled . Four of the Chinese men died and only two survived the night . The two that survived did so by playing dead.

The Marysville Daily Appeal declared : "It is a war of the races here . "

Violence against Chinese was a fact of life in the labor camps of the 1870's and 1880's where Chinese could be attacked in their sleep in their cabins by anti -Chinese mobs.
Indeed, Jue Joe suffered injury in the anti-Chinese riots following 1874. Immigration papers noted a gash at the end of his right eyebrow, and a crooked little finger on his left hand. Jue Joe told his son San Tong of attacks he had received at the hands of nogooders when he was a young man working the vineyards of Northern California.

A life long habit of self protection became ingrained in Jue Joe. Armed with a Colt.45 and a cleaver under the pillow he could sleep in relative peace . As violence got too bad , Jue Joe, like other Chinese would move on looking for work elsewhere. .

Jue Joe moved on at that point to find work in nearby St . Helena .

The Napa valley countryside is beautiful today and it was beautiful back in Jue Joe's time .

In the late 1800's there was wine boom going on in Napa Valley just like there is now .

At one point , Cantonese workers accounted for 80 to 85 percent of field hands in the wineries .After harvesting the grapes , Chinese laborers were used to press grapes with their feet on top of giant wine barrels.

I found a wonderful book in the St.Helena library . It is called “Napa Valley Heyday” by Richard Dillon. It’s a limited edition published by the Book Club of California. This book provided a lot of detailed information about the Chinese history in St. Helena which dovetailed with Jue Joe’s oral history of these times.

“Since Asiatics, by law were not allowed to own property but only to lease or rent it. John Gilliam became Chinatown's landlord-or slumloard. He had started out locally by supplying firewood to the railroad and cordwood for local consumption as fireplace fuel . He also sold redwood"grape sticks"(grapestakes) and by 1879 ran a manganese mine. In the late 1860's , Gilliam began to supply Asian newcomers with "temporary" housing : rude , hastily thrown -up shacks. By 1870, the dwellings had been joined by a China Store and a Cantonese restuarant.

Chinatown continued to grow , and by 1884 contained boarding houses, a hotel , more stores, the essential employment office or hiring hall , and even a " joss house" (temple) and cemetery. "

In 1884 the local white population in St. Helena was around 2,500. The Chinese population was near 1000 .So more then 1 in 3 people in St . Helena at the time were Chinese !

During St. Helena Chinatown's heyday, most field hands lived in its ghetto and traveled by foot between ranches , farms, and vineyards starting at dawn and returning at sunset.” They worked generally 6 ½ days a week for a wage of 50 cents a day .” Most Chinese laborers worked in fields, vineyards, hopyards, or mines. But some were household servants, cooks , laundrymen, storekeepers, and clerks. Still others dug the winery tunnels at Schramsberg and the Beringers' place , and laid rock walls to fence off agricultural fields and pastures “

However, anti Chinese sentiment began rising in St. Helena as it had in Marysville and many other towns in the American West and there was agitation on a national level to pass exclusionary laws prohibiting Chinese immigration .

Auntie Soo Yin writes :"My father San Tong told me that in early 1882, in San Francisco, Jue Joe had asked the Elders of the Chinese Six Companies if he should become a U.S. Citizen. He had given it serious thought. He'd heard a rumor about impending legislation against Chinese immigrants and so he thought he'd be better off becoming a citizen. And besides, China was beginning to fall apart. But because of extensive anti-Chinese incidents in California, and bitter hostilities growing daily, the Elders of the Six Companies told Jue Joe, "No! Don't do it." They told him to remain a Chinese citizen and be proud. They told him Chinese stand together and he would be better off. Four months later, the Chinese Exclusion Law of 1882 was passed and Jue Joe had to get a certificate of Identity. He would never again be allowed to become a U.S. citizen "
The 1882 law provided a system to identify Chinese who remained exempt from exclusion. Resident Chinese laborers, for example, received a certificate of identity—known as a “return” certificate—before they left the United States and presented the certificate for readmission upon their return. Jue Joe obtained one of these certificate of identities in St. Helena . It proved that he had legally immigrated to the United States prior to 1882.

According to Dillon ,

“In 1885 an Anti-Chinese League was formed in St. Helena with the focus of agitation against Chinese being employed as vineyard laborers.

In St Helena:

" boys chucked rocks at inoffensive 'Mongolians' downtown, while older youths shoved the hapless Chinese about. Some adults set their dogs on them . “

“In February of 1886 there was a protest march on Chinatown by the anti -coolie crowd , assembled at City Hall by the signal of whistles and bells. The Chinese had been forewarned and had deserted Chinatown and all the buildings were shuttered tight..Anti Chinese agitators demanded that all of Chinatown be condemned by the Board of Health as a public nuisance. Gilliam , the slumlord owner of the Chinatown property , penned a long letter to the St . Helena Star after the protest march indicating that he was willing to ask his Asian renters to leave, if someone would buy the "improvements", the shacks, on his land from him. “

I think that 1886 was a very good year for Jue Joe to leave St . Helena and seek work elsewhere . In that year the Southern Pacific Railroad was actively hiring Chinese crews for construction of the Coastal route of the railroad with hiring being done by labor bosses in Oakland . Over 1000 Chinese workers were hired .

After construction was halted on the Southern Pacific Railway in 1889 at the Cuesta grade near San Luis Obispo , Jue Joe found his way to Los Angeles, and began working as a household domestic for Otto Brant , the first president of the Title Insurance Company in Los Angeles. Household employee and employer, a humble Chinese man with broken English, Jue Joe and one of the early movers and shakers of Los Angeles society , Otto Brant , became fast friends.

Through Brant , Jue Joe met and became friends with many other prominent men in Los Angeles such as Harrison Otis and Harry Chandler of the Los Angeles Times. Brant helped Jue Joe get started in potato farming in the San Fernando Valley on leased land .
He was successful at this and realized his dream of moving back to China in 1902. He was married in an arranged marriage to a young woman , Leong Shee and had two sons. He built a western style house in his village . He left his farming operations in the San Fernando valley in the hands of his younger brother Jue Shee .
Jue Joe paid for his brother's education first at Pomona college and then at UC Berkeley where Jue Shee obtained a PHD in mining engineering . Jue Shee was ill suited to managing the farming operations and sold the farm and left for France. Jue Joe discovered this and realized that no further money would be coming from his American farming operations and decided to return to the United States to remake his fortune in 1906 . His wife and sons did not hear from him for 9 years . Finally he sent for his family 12 years after he left in 1918 . By that time he had restarted his potato farming operations. Later, even though Chinese were not allowed to own land because of the Alien Land law, my great grandfather was able to buy land under Otto Brant's name in the San Fernando Valley and began a very successful Asparagus farming business in the Van Nuys area ,at one time growing Asparagus on 700 acres of land and being one of the largest Asparagus growers in Southern California. He was called the Asparagus King by the Los Angeles Times in 1934. . Along the way he also operated a western style saloon in downtown Los Angeles before the prohibition.My grandfather as a young man remembered with amazement the scene of his father , Jue Joe holding court in his western style saloon a colt 45 strapped to his waist.

I like this quote

"Luck comes to a man who puts himself in the way of it. You went where something might be found and you found something, simple as that."

— Louis L'Amour
To the Far Blue Mountains

I also like this other quote in an article about the Chinese immigrant experience -

“Entrepreneurship is the ability to see value where others do not. It is also the ability to "make lemonade when life hands you lemons......Many seized the entrepreneurial moment and made a successful life for themselves in a strange land among a strange people."

Jue Joe like many other Chinese of the time were pragmatists, first and foremost, trying to survive in any way they could .

San Tong said that his father Jue Joe was ..."very unconventional. He did not follow the crowd, he always stood out...and people remembered him." Jue Joe taught his son to think creatively, to look ahead of what life dealt you, and to make the most of opportunity. Although Jue Joe appeared to be cranky and demanding of his family, always lecturing to them, he operated on a different level with his friends and his associates. They saw in him an unconventional and gifted man. A man with humor behind his serious eyes.”

“Jue Joe preferred a simple lifestyle and independence. My father San tong told us that Jue Joe always wore a khaki shirt and pants, knee high boots, and lots of keys dangled from his waist belt. He fired his Colt.45 once a year to clean its barrel, wore it in a holster around his waist, and slept with a cleaver under his pillow in his one-room cabin with a dirt floor on the Van Nuys ranch. In that cabin there was an indented hole under his desk where he always rubbed his barefeet on the dirt floor. His lawyers came to conduct business with Jue Joe in that cabin, too. There was a pot-bellied stove that served as a heater and on the walls were hung horse's bridles and yokes. When Jue Joe left to work in his fields he always locked his cabin door.
On the Van Nuys ranch San Tong recalled seeing Harry Chandler , publisher of the LA times and Jue Joe sitting on stools in front of a round wash tub near Jue Joe's cabin. They were talking and drinking Jue Joe's "moonshine" through a rubber hose dipped into the tub.”-- Auntie Soo-Yin
It was not only the rich and powerful that were important to Jue Joe . My Dad at the age of 13 helped his 81 year old Grandfather pay the Jue Joe Ranch farm workers. Dad says Jue Joe could not read or write English so he had my Dad write the checks for him. Jue Joe had a great memory , and identified each worker by personal characteristics and remembered exactly who they were , and how much work they did and was careful to pay them exactly what he promised. My Dad wrote the checks as the men came up to be paid .

Jue Joe passed away in Los Angeles in 1941 .

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Early Van Nuys

Auntie Soo Yin has provided some great photos of early Van Nuys (Click on photos to enlarge ) ;

"I.N. Van Nuys Ranch: Grub time on the I.N. Van Nuys Ranch, 1895. In Jue Joe's time this is how the south portion of the San Fernando Valley looked, all wheat farms. Later, Jue Joe purchased 300 acres of this land and that portion became the Jue Joe Asparagus Ranch. (Title Insurance and Trust Company.) "

"Cahuenga Pass, 1897: This is what the wagon trail looked like for Jue Joe. He drove a team of four horses hitched to a buck wagon filled with crates of potatoes. And it took him three hours each way to drive his wagon from the San Fernando Valley and over the Cahuenga Pass to the Los Angeles produce market. The Pass is now the Hollywood Freeway. (Title Insurance and Trust Company.) "

First Track Office, Van Nuys: Located at Virginia and Sherman Way, circa 1910. Subdivision began in the south half of the San Fernando Valley, and lot prices started at $350. (Title Insurance and Trust Company.)

More details of Jue Joe's early years in the San Fernando Valley can be found here.

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.

More details of San Tong's high school years can be found here.

Ps. Auntie Soo Yin has provided a number of other photos which I have added to previous posts.

This post contains additional photos of San Tong's businesses in Mexico.
This post contains a nice portrait of San Tong in his later years.
This post contains a nice picture of San Tong and Ping going to my Uncle Guy's high school graduation in 1957.
This post contains an interesting telegram from an East Coast Asparagus wholesaler to Jue Joe.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Van Nuys Ranch- Circa 1949

Here are some great photos of the Van Nuys Ranch Homestead in the early days contributed by Auntie Soo-Yin ( Click on photos to enlarge):

"As I'm rummaging through boxes at home I'm finding more photos of our family in the early days of the Valley:

#1. Here is a photo of the Vanowen St. home that Ah Gung had built. The front door of the home was custom built and on which the Chinese word for "happiness, prosperity" was carved in gold. Leong Shee, San Tong's mother, had chosen this word to bless the new home. On the far left is Ah Gung's green Lincoln Zephyr. Later, he bought a black chrysler that had more room for his growing family.

#2. In 1949 it snowed in Van Nuys! This photo shows what our home looked like the day after the snowstorm. In the distance is Auntie Joan building a snowman. The night before, as snow was falling, your Dad and Auntie Joan put on their skis and had Uncle Guy and Auntie Soo-Jan pull them around on the front lawn. The next morning Uncle Guy got sick. So my Mom sent Auntie Pingileen and I out to gather a bucket of snow for Guy. Then we all had so much fun throwing snow balls at each other in Guy's bedroom, called the "den."

---- Auntie Soo-Yin

Here are some links to earlier posts concerning the Van Nuys Ranch House

Aerial view of the Ranch house in the farming days .
Aerial view of the Ranch house in 2010 .

Happy days
at the Ranch house .

Van Nuys neighbors in the old days

Pictures of the Ranch house and barn in 2010 .

By the way , recently Andy Hurvitz who has his own blog " Here in Van Nuys" discovered our family history blog . He has put up a nice post about our Jue Clan . He has some great pictures on his blog of Van Nuys in the 1940's and 1950's and is reporting on the community in modern times as well.
Check his blogs out. He is also a writer and photographer.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

More Photos- San Tong in Mexico

Throughout his life , my grandfather, San Tong was an inventor. He was an inventor of asparagus packing and farming equipment and after he moved to Mexico an inventor of food products. He was a man with a restless and creative mind. Many thanks to Auntie Soo-Yin for these additional pictures and comments. (Clicking on the photos will enlarge them.)
"Auntie Pingileen was a great help to Ah Gung when he was setting up his various businesses. She sourced roasting machines, other equiptment, and where to buy ingredients for him. Attached are more photos of Ah Gug's life and work in Mexico:

1. Mexico City office and factory: With San Tong is his partner Frederico Lee in the Sun Hing Corp., Frederico's son Jorje (George), and three of their workers. This office might have been located on Reforma Road. San Tong had two places in Mexico City that manufactured his many products and that launched his new business ventures.

2. Villa Obregon, Mexico City: This was the plant that produced SanTong's dried sharksfin, sharksfin soup, five-spiced peanuts, and soy sauce.

3. Sharksfin: Sharksfin being dried and shaped for packaging.

4. Sharkfin Soup: Frederico Lee preparing sharksfin soup, experimenting with San Tong's new formula.

5. Drying Peanuts: Frederico Lee with trays of peanuts. San Tong had developed a way to flavor the inside nuts, leaving the external shell intact, and this preserved the nuts' fresh flavor.

6. Five-Spiced Peanuts: Frederico Lee emerses the peanuts into San Tong's five-spiced formula before roasting and packaging.

7. Peanut Label: Auntie Pingileen helped create this label. San Tong wanted to name a product after each of his children's names.

8. Grinding Soy Beans: Jorje Lee, Frederico Lee's son, demonstrates how soy beans are ground up for the fermentation process in making soy sauce.

9. Soy Sauce Production: Manuelito is overseeing the fermentation process in barrels of San Tong's soy sauce formula. Manuelito was 12-years old when he first came to San Tong looking for work. He was a poor and hungry kid. He lived on a hillside in La Paz, Baja California, with only a plastic tarp to keep him from the elements. San Tong adopted him as his son, so to speak. Manuelito came to live with, and to work for, San Tong, who mentored and guided the young lad throughout his life. Manuelito grew up to become a high school sports coach, married a nice lady, and had children of his own.

10. Food Experiments: Here are samples of San Tong 's food experiments on shelves in his La Paz, Baja California, home and factory. In La Paz he produced Damiana Tea, Damiana Champaign, Passion Fruit tea, and Passion Fruit Champaign. At his Marquez de Leon address I saw a room filled with Alhambra bottles that sat on rows of long tables, and these big bottles distilled and fermented his champaign formulas. Upstairs San Tong had sharksfin filaments drying on his balcony's sofa and chairs, with fans belting hot air on them. He produced sharksfin products here, as well as in Mexico City, because sharks were abundant in waters off La Paz, and many fishing boats from Japan and Taiwan anchored to fish here.

11. DMZ South Korea: A visit to Panmunjom, DMZ. In 1973 San Tong was a guest of a large Korean ramen noodle manufacturing company. The CEO had heard of San Tong's businesses in Mexico and flew him to Seoul, Korea, to discuss a joint venture to distribute their ramen noodles in the northern hemisphere.

12. Chinese BBQ: San Tong designed and built this Chinese BBQ that incorporated a grill, a wok for stir-fry, and a smokestack for roasting meats.

13. Pulque Label: Mexico's Goddess of Fertility breastfeeding a baby. On the back of the photo that shows a Maguey cactus plant San Tong Jue wrote: "Dated 04/05/74 - This is a Maguey plant. A hole about 6" diameter wide and 6" deep is cut right in the center heart of this cactus and in a few weeks the plant starts to bleed juice into this hole and the juice is gathered every morning and evening. Everyday a plant produces one or two gallons of juice depending on the size of the plant. The juices are gather from many plants and then are put in a big vat to ferment for a week into pulque. Pulque has an alcohol content about same as beer. Its color is white and looks like milk. The plant produces for 4 to 6 months."

Maguey Label: From the Maguey plant San Tong created a non-alcoholic beverage as well. The label is the same Goddess of Fertility as on the Pulque Label.

Roast Pork: On the Tulancingo ranch, in Mexico, San Tong Jue also produced Chinese roast pork, "Cha Shiu."

We now have a rich picture of San Tong's life in Mexico , which was his long attempt at a business and financial comeback. We also have learned of his trips back and forth to the USA and his final years with his family before his death. Here are some links to previous posts in this blog that help paint the picture of this time in my grandfather's very rich life.

Here we discuss San Tong leaving for Florida and Mexico in the wake of the family lawsuit and loss of his property in the United States.
Here we have a detailed look at San Tong's time as the manager of a large hacienda and ranch in Mexico and my Auntie Estelle and Uncle Guy's honeymoon there
Here we discuss San Tong's many business ventures in Mexico.
These ventures are further expanded on in the current post.
Here we have some additional commentary on his business ventures in La Paz and family visit there.
Here we have a nice piece written by Auntie Soo Yin celebrating the full breadth of San Tong's life and wonderful memories of his later years by Auntie Soo-Jan and her family
Finally , we put San Tong's life in perspective and discuss the lives of Jue Joe , the father , San Tong , the son , and Jack Sr. the grandson . (Jack Sr . is my father . I am Jue Joe's great grandson and San Tong's grandson).