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).

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pictures- San Tong in Mexico

Recently, Auntie Soo Yin has provided some wonderful photos and commentary concerning my grandfather San Tong Jue's time in Mexico. I have included some of these photos in a previous post to illustrate her comments on the hacienda and ranch in Tulancingo which San Tong managed for Sr. Castro . Here are some other photos and Auntie Soo-Yin's comments. Some further details of San Tong's time in Mexico as a "food scientist" can be found here.

"According to Auntie Pingileen, this photo of Ah Gung was taken at his friend's goat farm in, or near, Mexico City. Auntie Pingileen said she had met the owner of this goat farm and had been there with Ah Gung when she'd visited him in Mexico. This is the photo that my siblings and I love most. It is how we like to remember our father. "
(click on photos to enlarge)

"Here is a picture some of Ah Gung's many products that he produced at his factories in Tulancingo, Actopan, Mexico City, and La Paz, Baja California: Sharksfin, Pulque, Damiana Tea, Damiana Champagne, Passion Fruit Champagne, Soy Sauce, and Five-Spiced Peanuts. "

"The last photo of his mushrooms is very interesting. This is what he wrote on the back of that photo: "Dated 4/05/1974: "This is my miniature mushroom farm. It is growing in my bathroom. I have 6 of these boxes growing them--just to work out my technique in a small scale to prepare for commercial production at a later date." He told me that he had found caves in which to grow mushrooms on a larger scale when he was ready to start production. Caves, he said, were ideal because of their cool and constant temperature. ps. The man in the mushroom photo is Frederico Lee. He was Ah Gung's business partner in the "Sun Hing Corporation" located in Mexico City and in La Paz. Frederico Lee owned a cafe in La Paz, Baja California, and he liked Ah Gung's soy sauce and five-spiced peanuts that Ah Gung had sold to him. Together the two men started the Sun Hing Corporation and opened a factory in Mexico City for production in a larger way. The Sun Hing Corporation was Ah Gung's first business development. Later, he started the Western Advance Corporation, and was operating both businesses at the same time. "

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Honeymoon at the Hacienda

Recently Auntie Estelle was kind enough to share with the whole family, video of her honeymoon with Uncle Guy at the Hacienda in Mexico where my grandfather ,San Tong was working in 1966.
More details and pictures of San Tong's time at the Hacienda can be found here.

The video clip I have selected shows Auntie Estelle and Uncle Guy touring the Hacienda grounds and waterfall . Then there is a segment with Uncle Guy and his father ( my grandfather) San Tong riding horses . Guy is the man in the white pants and San Tong is in the blue shirt and blue jeans . Thanks so much Auntie Estelle for sharing this precious video!

Here is some information on the Hacienda , Uncle Guy , and San Tong and Ping . Thanks so much Auntie Estelle and Auntie Soo-Yin ! :

Auntie Estelle :

"Gung managed the hacienda for Sr. Angel Castro who was the head of the Mexican construction union. Sr. Castro was a "gentleman farmer" who loved this country getaway where he indulged his hobby of raising horses. I really don't know much about the hacienda, nor even where it was other than about a 4 hour drive from Mexico City. The hacienda structure was very old, built some time in the 1800s, resembling a California mission with one foot thick walls and a tile roof. It stood completely by itself with no other structure in sight. The property incorporated many, many acres of farmland and also a large waterfall which we had to drive to. When we were there, Sr. Castro had just purchased a horse that no one could break until Guy, who grew up riding his horse on the Van Nuys ranch, tamed it in one day. By the end of the afternoon Guy would walk holding an apple behind him, and the horse would just meekly follow, nudging Guy's hand for the apple. Sr. Castro named him Veintiseis (26) because he had bucked off 26 riders before Guy finally trained him to accept a rider. On the side of the hacienda were horse and animal stalls and a pond where Gung raised ducks and pigs. The hacienda was one story built around a typical Spanish central courtyard. At the front, there was a second story bell tower with a 360 degree view of miles and miles of the surrounding countryside where the rancheros could stand and shoot at any marauding bandits riding into the hacienda. As the nearest village and church were so far away, there was also a little chapel on one side of the hacienda where all the rancheros would come to worship on Sundays whenever a traveling priest would stop by. When we were there, Uncle Guy and I felt like we had stepped back in time.

I think the footage of Gung riding a horse like a seasoned cowhand would be fun to add to the blog. As you know, he loved taking movies. As this might be the latest footage we have of him, it kind of caps off the earlier footage as his last hurrah in front of the camera. If he were alive to see the blog, he probably would have been thrilled to see himself riding into the hacienda like John Wayne. "

Auntie Soo-Yin

"Estelle, your video re: honeymoon at the Hacienda is a real treasure. It's a wonderful story you told about Guy and horse "26." Animals sure respected him. I recall how Jesus's wild coyotes on Uncle Jack's Saugus Ranch took to Guy and allowed him to pet them.

RE: HACIENDA - The Hacienda is over 500-years old. And the big ranch that the Hacienda sits on is located in Tulancingo, State of Hidalgo, Mexico. It is well over an hour's drive northeast of Mexico City.

For centuries all the villagers in Tulancingo worked for the Hacienda, and the practice was continued during San Tong Jue's stay there. In his bedroom San Tong built a huge stone fireplace for heat during the winter months. And while on the Tulancingo ranch San Tong started his Western Advance Corporation to manufacture a non-alcoholic beverage called, "pulque." a drink loved by the Mexicans. The juice comes from the heart of the maguey cactus that grows wild in the region.
As Estelle said, San Tong also raised Esther White pigs on the ranch, and he built a wooden contraption that weaned piglets at 6-weeks old, instead of the normal 3 months that it takes.
Here is a picture of the piglet weaning stall:
(click on photos to enlarge )

Here is a picture of the piglets being weaned:

On the vastness of the ranch he built a large lake with an island in the middle of the lake. And the size of the lake was enormous, it was not pond-size. Then San Tong placed dozens of ducks on the lake and they laid eggs on the lake's island amid the thick foliage that he had planted there. I think there were about 40 horses on the ranch, though I'm not real sure, but it was a big stable. I do not know how many acres comprised the ranch but you had to drive or ride on horseback in order to cover its entire grounds. The Hacienda, and its grounds, gave you the feel of a great fortress like in a period movie. You felt the whisper of its history. You could imagine the Spanish dons of yesteryear whipping around the ranch, waving their pistols in the air. According to San Tong, a few years before Sr. Castro had purchased this ranch it had been a marijuana farm. And on the far end of this remote land a few shoots popped up now and then. Nevertheless, Sr. Castro loved his Tulancingo ranch. And he appreciated San Tong for his skill, hard work, and honest character. Sr. Castro respected San Tong, who had created for the Castro family a place of peaceful refuge and safety. And Sr. Castro needed a refuge. As head of the most powerful union in Mexico, which had built Mexico City's subway system, Sr. Castro needed a place to hide. He never knew when power struggles in Mexico City would blow up in his face in those days, such as assasinations, kidnappings. And when the heat was on in the Big City, Sr. Castro would steal away to his ranch for safety.

I visited the Hacienda with Baba after I'd graduated from college. I think it was in 1969 or 1970 that I visited. Baba had formed the Western Advance Corp. in Tulancingo, and the ranch's original name was called "Rancho San Antonio." I think Baba might have said that Rancho San Antonio had over 600 acres, but I'm not absolutely sure. It seemed to me that it was at least that many acres. He told me that he had dredged and built the lake with an island standing in its middle and that he had placed, or was going to place, trout in its waters for fishing. With pride he pointed out groups of new ducklings swimming around the lake with their mothers. And as you had said, the lake was located just outside the Hacienda near its side. It's the same lake that you and Guy saw.
Here are a couple of pictures of the lake from my visit there :

It's wonderful that you still have slides, photos, and videos that captured this moment in time. Your description of the Hacienda and its grounds were so vivid and so accurate. I felt myself transported back to that place! One day Baba took me horseback riding--on horses from that stable you described--but I couldn't make my horse turn with reigns in my hands, so he held my reigns in his hands and my horse followed his horse's lead.

Did you meet Dita, the cook? I think that was her name. She was old and her long hair had two braids running down to her waist. For generations her family had worked for the Hacienda, and, now, she did as well. She loved my mother and took care of her when my mother was at the Tulancingo ranch. Baba had told me that on my mother's final visit (she was too ill to travel anymore), Dita gave her a "live chicken" as a gift to take home to California. My mother didn't want to hurt Dita's feelings by telling her that she could not carry a live chicken aboard an airplane, so she accepted the chicken, then gave it to a needy peasant family in Actopan, a town not far from the ranch. When I arrived at the ranch Dita asked me in Spanish how my mother was. Baba told her that Ping had died. Dita cried and cried. She hugged me tightly. I knew, then, how much she had loved Ping. "

Here is a picture of Dita :