Monday, August 31, 2015

Jack Jue's Lost Childhood Photo Album 1940-1941

Recently I found a wonderful photo album that my late father Jack Jue put together as a 12 and 13 year old boy on the Van Nuys Ranch in 1940 and 1941. Many of the photos have his writing on the back .  His sister Joan is 10 and 11 at the time.  There are also I think some pictures from the late 1930s as well. My Dad and his sister Joan were very close throughout their life. The closeness was accentuated by their mother's Rose death early in their childhood.  There are a few photos in the back of the album from later years but most are from the 1940 to 1941 era.

My Dad's captions are in quotes when they are available.
"Myself,  on Thunder, my horse , at Van Nuys Ranch , 1941"
(Auntie Soo Yin:Your Dad and Thunder are in an area that was a part of the Big Barn's corral in which Jue Joe had housed his 40 horses. This area later became a big chicken coop and small feed shed as Thunder's stable was moved to the end of the Packinghouse barns, across from an outhouse, and the corral was reduced in size. The Packinghouse (the one with a higher roof) and its connecting warehouse is shown in the photo's background. To the right of the photo is the backside of the Big Barn (the Barn's front faces Vanowen St.). Thunder was a black Morgan horse who was tough and strong in temperament.)

(From Bill in Missouri:  With the western saddle, spurs, cowboy boots, rifle and lariat your Dad could be mistaken for Roy Rogers on "Thunder". Thunder is no draft horse and I can tell from the pic that he's fit, healthy and well-cared for. I'm pretty sure the rifle is a lever action, likely a .22 going by the size, old-time crescent buttplate and tube magazine. No doubt there were produce robbing vermin on the place back then, and your Dad was prepared to deal with them ;-))

This is  my father's sister Joan on her horse.
(Auntie Soo Yin: Joan's horse was named, "Whitey," but its coat was all a chestnut-brown color. After Whitey died, Joan got a new horse named, "Blake." Blake had a white streak down its nose. I remember that both mares were so gentle! In the photo's background you see the Packinghouse's small window. There were more windows like this one on the structure, and when U.S. Marshals came with their paddy wagons to round up illegals (braceros who had overstayed their visas), the Mexicans in the Packinghouse dove through these windows to hide in ditches along the rows of asparagus. )

"Joan at Walker Ranch, 1940"

"Jack Jue myself at Van Nuys ranch on the old Cletrac 1941"

(note: "Cletrac" was a brand name of the Cleveland tractor company. Here is a history of the company. The old tractors are now in museums and antique collections. This is a model E. )

(Auntie Soo Yin : Backdrop is the backside of the Packinghouse, and the backside faces a soon-to-be-built new house. The backside shows a pile of roof shingles and firewood against the building. Stray cats liked to birth their kittens in that wood pile, or in a stack of concrete irrigation bowls that Ah Gung had made for the asparagus fields.)

"Me on Cletrac 1941"
(note: this is a newer improved  Cletrac tractor- model HG . This was a pretty special new tractor introduced in 1939 -"Between 1916 and 1944, Cletrac produced some 75 different tractor models, one of which was the HG. Introduced in 1939, the little HG crawler was powered by a Hercules IXA-3, 3” X 4” engine that developed about 14 drawbar horsepower. In Nebraska Tractor Test No. 324, of August, 1939, the 3500 pound Model HG pulled 2800 pounds, almost 80% of its own weight while using 1.5 gallons of gas per hour.")
(Auntie Soo Yin: The gas pump was still in use up to the late 1950s until its pipe in the ground rusted and gasoline was spilling into the earth. In upper right of photo you see Jue Joe's Pumphouse that housed his artesian water well inside. Farm folks used to dig their own water wells before piping was introduced on farms and in homes. Jue Joe made a table to cover the open well by sawing a large wooden cable in half. According to San Tong, his father ate at the table sometimes with his ranch hands. After Jue Joe died in 1941, San Tong moved his family to the Ranch and he padlocked the Pumphouse so that his kids would not play in there by the well. One day I accompanied my father San Tong to the Pumphouse to watch him remove the table in order to pour oil down the well. The oil killed mosquitoes. I remember that the well was still filled with looking. )

"Joan on Cletrac, 1941"
(From my friend Bill from Missouri who knows tractors: Great find to locate the second picture, the tractor looks shiny and new. Back in those days only the most prosperous and modern farms used tractor power as draft animals were still in common usage. It's telling that the horses on the place back then were obviously for pleasure, not work. It was about that period of time that most tractor manufacturers introduced "styled" or "streamlined" tractors, with older versions referred to as "unstyled". Usually power train, undercarriage components and even model names remained the same but these newer tractors were gussied up with rounded, more modern appearing sheetmetal. Apparently the Cletrac HG was offered initially in an unstyled version and later in a styled version which is what your Grandpa had, no doubt it was state-of-the-art back in the day.)

San Tong (Jack's father)
(Auntie Soo Yin: San Tong in Ford Coup: I think this was at an alley of the San Pedro St. warehouse and shipping dock.)

Corrine ( Jack's Aunt), Leong Shee (Jack's grandmother), Jack and Joan on a trip to Catalina in the late 1930s.
San Tong and Joan onboard the ship to Catalina
"Jack and Joan at Expo"
(This photo was taken at the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island in San Francisco in June of 1940, more pictures and info here.)
"Jack Jue , Donald Zinmerly"

"Joan and Lloyd at Van Nuys, 1940"

"Joan , Lloyd Ballard on Besty at Van Nuys , 1940"
(Auntie Soo Yin: Behind Joan and friend was a walnut tree, and behind the walnut tree was a big washing basin to clean the black asparagus seeds before shipping the seeds to Germaine Seed Co., the buyer. The Jue Joe business made about $20,000 a year just from Germaine. Note the roof of the Packinghouse barns, too. These flocks of pigeons were the first ones lured into our big chicken coop and were the ancestors of many generations of cooped pigeons who gave us happy "squab" meals.)

"Joan at Van Nuys, 1940"
(Auntie Soo Yin:This photo shows the backside of Posie's cottage. In back of the cottage Nectarine trees grew and Joan is holding a ripe one. In the upper left of the photo you look toward the future Archwood St., and to the left of the photo, although not shown, is DeCelis road. DeCelis was a dirt wagon trail that Jack and Joan rode horseback on as they traveled toward Sepulveda Dam and beyond. )

"My grandmother at Van Nuys Ranch , 1941"
(Auntie Soo Yin: Posie worked hard on the Ranch. Behind Posie are Eucalyptus trees that lined Vanowen St., which was a dirt road until Margaret Farlow campaigned to have it paved. You can see the main entrance to the Ranch from Vanowen St., between the clusters of trees. Later the entrance was gated, and still later, a side gate to the Ranch was opened from DeCelis and we used the DeCelis entrance from then on.)

"Joan Jue at Van Nuys, ps first picture of flash camera, 1941"
(Auntie Soo Yin: This is the interior living room of Posie's cottage that on one side was the kitchen and the other side was the dining area...all in one room. To the photo's right was the front door. Next to Joan's shoes on the clapboard floor, though not shown in this photo, were 2 termite holes. And as Auntie Soo-Jan had said, asparagus shoots sprouted up through cracks in the floorboard. I remember that couch, too. After my nap, my mom would place me on the couch with Posie while my mom worked at the stove. I remember Jack and Joan waving at me, one time, and I squealed with happiness. To the left of the photo was a hallway that led to the bedrooms. The Mexican throw rug was used to block out the strong afternoon sun behind the couch because the windows faced west. Later, this cottage was also the home of Jimmy and Ming Loon in their early years.)

"Joan Jue, my sister, 1941"
"Joan, June 1942 , Van Nuys"

"Jack Jue, Van Nuys, June 1942"
"Loone at Van Nuys Ranch 1941"
(Auntie Soo Yin: I remember Cousin Loon's hat. Loved playing with it. You can see Posie's ivy-covered cottage to the right of photo, which is the front of the house. In the background is the Vanowen St. driveway, and opposite on Vanowen St., you can see David Frazer's house. David was Uncle Guy's boyhood friend and they used to go horseback riding together. The Frazer's had a friendly red setter dog named, "Rafferty" who loved playing with us kids.)
(Loon's story is here.)

Here is another picture of Loon 3 years earlier  in my father's album. It has the "S'38" on the back.
(Auntie Soo Yin: This is Cousin Loon (Chan Lum) in 1938 standing in front of Posie's cottage. He was 22-years old, having arrived from China only six-years earlier at the age of 16 (the age that I was told). In regard to "S'38," your Dad might have meant "Spring 1938" because Cousin Loon is wearing a lightweight jacket, and the foliage behind him looks fresh and young. I think he was living in the cottage with Posie and Dorothy at this time. Jue Joe seemed to prefer living alone in his cabin.)

 "Frank the Dog , April 1942 Van Nuys
(Auntie Soo Yin and Auntie Soo Jan: In the foreground you see the "Put-Put" car. It was a royal blue Packard and had no brakes. The car sputtered as you drove it and that's why Joan named it Put-Put. She and Barbra Reber used to tear up over Sepulveda Road to UCLA every day in that car. Joan would drive and Barbra would pull the handbrake to slow it down for their hairpin turns. In the background you see the Pierce-Arrow on the right. The back of the Pierce-Arrow is curved to give it its signature style. Don't know what make car on the left, in front of the tree. )

My Dad had a new brother and new sisters after his father remarrried  and he took their pictures.

"Joan with Jane and Guy at Van Nuys, 1941"
Actually Jack's sister is Soo-Jan but he calls her Jane in the caption

(From my Auntie Soo-Jan:
With regard to the photo in 1941, in which Joan was holding my hand and Guy’s, we were 3 yrs. and 2 yrs. old, while Joan was 11.   Jack’s caption named us as Joan, Jane and Guy.  An explanation for why “Jane” is that my birth certificate lists my name as Soo-Jane Jew.  I must have been called Jane when I was a toddler.  However, I have no memory of that, only that I grew up using the name Soo-Jan.  I think that my Dad dropped the “e” which then makes the phonetic sound of my Anglo name an exact match to the pronunciation of my given Chinese name, which was his intention.  This bit of information clears up one puzzle in these old treasures that you are “excavating."
Auntie Soo Yin: They are standing in front of an apricot tree near Posie's cottage. The tree had a ring of stones around it, and later, additional plants surrounded the tree in a circle to bring more shade. San Tong added a drinking fountain inside that circle for us kids. We liked to play there because the apricots when ripe were so sweet to eat and very abundant.)

Here are some other undated pictures in my Dad's album.
A later picture of his sister Soo-Jan and brother Guy
(Auntie Soo Yin: Upper right of photo is location of the future new house. The big house would come pretty close to the grove of Eucalyptus trees in background. Behind the trees would be a future smaller corral that later became Senator's stable and corral, Uncle Guy's horse.)

My Dad's sister Pingeleen.
(Auntie Soo Yin: Cute cute! Again you see our main entrance and Vanowen St. beyond. Also, there is clear picture of David Frazer's house on the opposite side of Vanowen St)

Ping, my Dad's Stepmother on the left  and Dorothy, my Dad's Aunt on the right in 1944 at the Van Nuys Ranch.
(Auntie Soo Yin: The woman in the plaid jacket is Dorothy standing with my mom Ping. If the year was 1944 Dorothy was 22-years old in this picture. This is because my mom had told me that at Jue Joe's funeral, in 1941, Dorothy was 19-years old and was attending USC. In that same year she was still living with Posie in the cottage when Cousin Loon (Chan Lum) ran over to tell her and Posie that Jue Joe had fallen critically ill. The three rushed to Jue Joe's cabin and Ah Gung was immediately called. In 1944 I don't think Dorothy was living with us in the cottage on the Ranch. I think she returned to live with us only after Ah Gung had built the big new house and had gathered our whole extended family together under one roof.)

My Dad's aunt Dorothy with sister Soo-Jan and brother Guy.
(Auntie Soo-Jan: Dorothy with myself and Guy. Guy and I look to be 6 and 5. The clothes that I’m wearing (corduroy overalls) are what I wore to school in kindergarten as a 6 year old (1944).
Auntie Soo Yin: Dorothy would have graduated from USC, perhaps at the time of this photo. I remember that in her early 20s she bleached a streak of her hair white and wore her hair swept up in order to show it. I'm guessing that Dorothy started grad studies at John Hopkins University or was planning to do so, and she had come home for a visit, whether from John Hopkins or from her apartment in Los Angeles. I inherited your corduroy overalls from Pingy, and, now, know who the outfit had originated from, LOL, LOL! It was still in great shape when I got to wear it.)

My Dad's Sisters Soo-Jan and Pingy at the Van Nuys Ranch
(Auntie Soo Jan: This photo is of Pingy and myself. We look to be about 7 or 8 and 3 or 4 years old (1945/ 1946) and standing in back of the shed that eventually became the bathhouse of Pa Pa Kurihara with the big walnut tree at the south end of the barn.
 Auntie Soo Yin :The big walnut tree with its white trunk was standing next to Jue Joe's cabin. Under this walnut tree was where Cousin Loon (Chan Lum) parboiled chickens and pigeons in big oil drums in order to pluck the feathers off easy. This procedure was the first step in preparing poultry and squab for our dinners. I remember helping Cousin Loon sometimes, and I think my siblings did too. The barn in the left of the photo is the Big Barn that faces Vanowen Street today! The shed with the flat roof did enclose Papa Kurihara's outdoor Japanese bathtub, and behind this bathhouse stood Jue Joe's cabin, then the schoolroom (his office) across a cement patio. That schoolroom opened into a tool shed where Jesus used to work on an iron anvil, being the Ranch's blacksmith.)

"January 1947, Guy"
(Auntie Soo Yin: think those are Nectarine trees in full bloom behind Posie's cottage)
A photo also in 1947 of Guy, Soo Jan and Pingeleen during construction of the big new Van Nuys Ranch house.
(Auntie Soo Yin: They are standing in front of the"Den Room." The Den was once Dorothy, Cousin Loon, your Dad and Uncle Guy's bedrooms at different intervals. To the right of photo you see the flat roof of an open brick veranda at the back of the new house. Later, San Tong turned this into an indoor porch, and the flat rooftop is where us kids skated on. You can see the window in Soo-Jan's bedroom where we climbed out and skated down the shingles to the flat portion. Fuzzy, the cat, liked to park himself in front of the window, too, until Soo-Jan would let it in. This was Joan and Jack's bedroom first, then Jack moved to the Den when it became available, and Joan moved to the bedroom downstairs next to Posie when that became availabe (the one that is used today as a ticket office for a tennis club).)


  1. Thanks for posting these. The photos are amazing. I've never seen pictures of Jack and Joan on The Ranch together as kids. I can only think how revolutionary some of this was to them too, flash cameras, SF Expo where Mom talked of seeing her first television and to have copies of the pictures from the days before digital everything.

  2. Wow, you really did find some treasures in Mom's garage! I've never seen these pictures before. This makes me nostalgic and wishing I could hear the stories behind the pictures in Dad and Auntie Joan's voice!

  3. I suppose that Cletrac tractor- model HG had really gaven your family a value for the money, considering that not all farm owners could afford such a unit during those days. It would have been cool if your family had kept old equipment and displayed them in your barn for visitors to see.