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SAF SCHRAGER: I was shocked to see and I read a government report on immigration, which was racist. It was terrible. It was just disgusting to read. And when you started telling me about, that there was a law people couldn't come— I mean the wives couldn't come. I started seeing that it was bad.
MARIE LEE LEW: The average person don't know about those things.
ML LEW: They don't, they don't.
MLL: I just read an article in the paper about immigrants, because this isyear, and they say so many immigrants from Europe, so many immigrants from Asia, so many immigrants— altogether, less than half a million immigrants from China and Asiatic countries. And very lit tle— and less than that from Japan. And less than that from India; has very little, less than one percent, and they give it in millions. Just the other day I read that article— I forgot whether it's a—
ML: Sunday Magazine.
MLL: Yeah, Sunday Magazine, which was telling the truth, you know. Now that'sfor all the years now since the United States, well, like you say, 1776 or even before, you know. 'Course, I don't think there were any Chin ese before that, you know. It's only in the 1800's when people over here in the West they need the labor and all that before they allowed them to even come in for that.
SS: One thing I was surprised to read about was how hostile the Americanlabor unions were. Not all, but most, they were right in the forefront trying to keep the people out.
MLL: And they spent a lot of money in Washington, D.C., too, put up theselaws to force them out. Well, the biggest revolution in allowing Chin ese immigrants to come in— in allowing the Chinese people to become citizens was at the time when Pearl Buck was— she was one of the leaders in pushing through that law.
ML: She was a leader and then the war— the Japanese War combined, see.
MLL: And the Japanese War. That was before the Japanese War, though. 1943when the law became.
ML: During the war,
MLL: 1945 before Honolulu.
ML: No. No, it was '40.
MLL: Oh, oh, oh!! Oh, that was in '41, wasn't it?
SS: How much was life in the smaller towns, Like Walla Walla where yougrew up— how much was that like in the city, in the bigger cities, where they had bigger Chinatowns, like San Francisco or Seattle? Do you think that it was very similar for the people in both places? Or did it make a difference where they worked?
ML: Well, I don't think it makes that much difference. You see San Francisco had the biggest Chinatown, there] no doubt about that. San Francisco. So, therefore, the people in California are more— there a lot of Spanish people in there, too and Italian. So I think they are better in California than they were— In Maila Walla it wasn't too bad, because Walla Walla— years ago we had a caval ry unit there Fort Walla Walla. The Chinese was there when the fort was there first when they start to build the railroad there. They used to have the fcrt'at Walla Walla right west—
MLL: One acre.
ML: One mile square.
MLL: Oh, one mile square.
MLL: Where the fort was.
ML: Where the fort was. And the colonels and those guys in the fortthey liked the Chinese labor because the Chinese go cook for them and they do all the odd jobs for them. So they protect the Chinese quite abit in Walla Walla. The people didn't bother them too much. There are a few radical ones did go and beat 'em up and all that stuff, and throw rocks at their windows and all that stuff. But as a general rule- At one time they try to drive the Chinese out, but I heard the older Chinese say, the colonel put an order down and helped the Chin ese out because they won't let 'em do that. Because it was really against the law and so they won't do it,— and the radical guys backed out, anyway.
MLL: They could punish maybe the higher ups they could be punished when theydo things like that, and then that would stop some of that.
SS: Was the fort still there when you were a kid?
ML: There wasn't any cavalry there when I was a kid, but— it wasn't toolong ago when my dad was there, there used to be Fort Walla Walla. Walla Walla is one of the oldest towns in this whole territory. That's when Marcus Whitman first came in there. I don't suppose not too much after the white settlers there's Chinese in there. Along right in there because I remember must be thirty, forty years ago, they had at Walla Walla what they called a centennial, or some kind of a hundredAand fifty years— They had a play, pageant up in the Fair grounds, and they show where Fort Walla Walla was, and the little town, where each store was and there was Chinese people there with their little laundry and they were running up and down the street with all the rest of them. And their, was a pageant— I don't know what they called it now.
SS: Do you think the Chinese community had been there continuously fromsoon after when the fort came?
ML: Yeah, I think so. Chinese was one of the early ones there. Well, asfar as thaconcerned, my father had a chance to buy that— right in the center of town of Walla Walla on Second Street, and Main Street where the Baker- Bank is, right there on the corner for six hundred dollars. So it must be quite a while ago before you can do that, see. You know, where the bank is. At that time— when I was in Walla Walla about that time the street was still muddy, there wasn't too many paved street very few. We had horses all over the place. And even taxis were horses. They had a carriage with two horses.
ML: The fire trucks used to be with horses.
ML: Oh, yes. The firetrucks. It was quite nice.
SS: The Chinatown was, you said, about a block long.
ML: About a half a block long. I would say about a hundred and twentyfeet deep. It was a quarter of a block.
SS: What was it? Were they small houses?
ML: Now this is the Chinatown here before that. Chinatown was scatteredall over Walla Walla. Was scattered from two, three blocks around there. But I think in 1911, I think, the Chinese people got together and bought this little piece of land there and built this building. Then they had these little stores, of six, eight, and I believe there were ten or twelve stores there, I think, altogether.
SS: Was it all one building?
ML: All one building. Then upstairs they had rooming for the people tOCcome through town, the Chinese people that come through lived there. And then they have some, I think, apartments up there— few apartments that the richer Chinese lived their with their families. They had one or two. there. But most of these stores are for— after the railroad built, then the Chinese went into gardening, quite a bit. They went into truck gardening. So each one— these stores here, just like I say, the Jonses and the Smiths and the family, what do you call it?
MLL: The family store.
ML: We gotta go and get a little store here. We ship the food in and webuy for all the Jonses, and we finance the garden with the food all year until— pretty near all year until -crop come and they get money. They sell the food to the gardeners- mark it down, see. Credit.
SS: How many different families had stores in Walla Walla?
ML: Oh, well, lot of families. Pretty near all families.
MLL: The Engs have got one, and the , and the got one. And thenthere must be a I don't remember all these.
SS: In someplace I read that in the Rocky Mountain towns, the small ones,that there was only maybe four families that would have the stores in town.
MLL: Thatjust about all. The Engs, the Lees, the Lews and the gottogether because they are the four families that are the smaller ones. And, the Lee and the Wongs. You say-
ML: The familyNso small, they one or two living, they go into their friendsThey go into the store and with friend.
MLL: And don't forget, most of these stores are food stores. Now, howabout that? Anybody ever run any kind of a country store with dish towels and a few underwears and stuff like that? I don't remember seeing.
ML: Yes. Yeah, they do.
SS: What store would supply the clothing?
ML: Clothing. You get overalls there. You get shoes there.
MLL: I think that kind of a store is almost like a department store. Runby more than one family.
ML: No, they don't handle everything, but they handle a few. You knowChinese people like to wear Chinese shoes, Chinese slippers, kind of like.
MLL: They got what they call -Aand Chinese slippers. It s a softmaterial slippers with leather soles. You mean that kind of high?—
ML: Kind of high. They ship all those in.
MLL: They ship those in. They kind of high.
SS: What about work clothes?
ML: They do work in overalls. At that time in Walla Walla there wasn'ttoo many stores in the main part of Walla Walla. See, at that time the - lot of.Chinese worked in the Chinese gardens and don t speak English. So then, naturally they go and buy from the stores there. Chinese people from Chinese, see. So, really it's accommodation, really.
MLL: So they give 'em credit for the whole year, and that's a help, too,you know. When a family is poor to start with and they don't collect the, well— day by day maybe they got a little bit, you know, but not very much, but maybe at the end of the year they got the: biggest crops, you know. In the fall they harvest the big crop. This building was still there until about five years ago, until they tore it down. At that time you know, they hid men call us up to see if we're interested in that you know. We and a few other ones that could do it. Mi say it too far from Moscow and we don't want to have too much to do with them, besides, if we take it over— we and two, three friends take it over, some of the other families, say, "Boy, those guys really got a bargain." So we just let that go by.
SS: Were there still headmen left in the community?
ML: That building was kind of a— everybody donate some money. Justkind of a corporation, except it isn't written down like a corporation. But when they built the building, need money, you say, "I donate you," I mean, not donate, they give it back to you, "I lend you the hundred dollars." Then they charge rent, and then.pay you back with interest, see. If the thing do good, then you get more, if the thing don't do so good, why, then you might have to lose a little bit of the-what do you call it? See. The earlier ones, I think they made a little bit of money, but the latter ones didn't. Because after the war, World War II well, see the Chinese people start migrating down to California. All the gardeners up there because the season is not quite that long, you see, and that's all they know is to truck garden, so they all start moving down to California where there are more Chinese and they a longer season and they can plant more.
MLL: And produce more.
ML: Lot better down there.
MLL: More money with their crops there.
SS: Was most of the community united as a group on that building? I meanwas it sort of a community hall?
ML: Yeah. Kind of community. But they rent to the stores, all thegot the stores.
MLL: To the families.
ML: Yes, the families. But it belongs to the what you call it— but yetbut it doesn't. Because that group of families donate so much money so they own that part, do anything they want with it. It isn t like a sign a lease— you do so and so, they can kick you out, anything like that. No.
MLL: They know that this part of it belongs to that family. That part ofit belong to that But, you know, that is when the men them selves are young, in their younger days, you know, but as they grow older and then they get older, and maybe you have the sons are not so much interested in keeping up with the store, then maybe they would sell their share to some of the other relatives or something, you know, and then gradually just kind of disintegrated because as the people learn a little more English they trade other places. They would trade at Safeway, probably, you know. And they get away from buying Chinese shoes. Maybe they feel that the other slippers are just as comfort able and they can have better choice, maybe. And so, gradually they are buying other things, you know, rather than all Chinese. And so, it kind of scatter out a little bit more, kind of disintegrate a lit tle bit. And its not a necessity any more to keep these stores anymore. That's what I think it would be. Because the last twenty or twenty-five years or so, the building just been rented out very cheap. Not Chin ese anymore, the last twenty years or so.
ML: Therenot too many Americans in there, yeah, there was a few Americanpeople in there, but not too many.
MLL: And then maybe some were vacant, and just two or three buildings rented to lower class business, you know.
SS: Was there a meeting hall upstairs?
ML: Yes, yeah, they had a meeting hall upstairs, yeah. They had a meeting hall upstairs, where they get once a month or so. And then they had a hall there—that meeting hall was in case the Chinese people, you knowhad a little trouble amongst themselves, then they all get up there and discuss the thing, and what the, ? "You're wrong, you're wrong." That ends that one, see. You can't go out there and go and try — and tell 'em like, "I'M going up and appeal." That no more. Then all the elders get together there and then they say "Okay, you're wrong, because after all you did the wrong thing,and you're wrong." That ends it right there. That's settled right there.
SS: What kind of cases would be the kinds of things that were discussed?
ML: Mostly, people owe some money and forget about it, or sometimes theymarried sometimes, they might have a girlfriend or something like that. Somebody have a girlfriend or something, and they are jealous of or But most of the time it's usually- that sometimes the young kids get in a fight because they call 'em a name or something like that. Or, something of that sort. But even, as far as that's concerned, even money or anything that is concerned, they all get together here and they talk over the case. If they say that the right thing to do— they all get together, and that's the right thing to do, and that's all there is to it. No more appeal, no more what do you call it.
SS: Everybody would listen to the sides argue their case?
ML: You can talk, both sides, you can talk. Yeah. You talk your side Aand the elders sit here in the middle. All the elders, you know. The elders were the wiser ones. The elders are the leading group of the whole thing. Chinese people as respect their elders, be cause they've lived longer than we do, so their wisdom is— what do you call it. So we respect them, that way. So whatever they say, although sometimes, maybe it is a little unfair, but nevertheless, the elders hold 'em down from both sides. Supposing you were a Smith young kid, and your father Smith and maybe a couple of . relatives are Smith, the Smiths will hold you down. So, although maybe you figure you're gonna fight the whole bunch— they're pretty good that way. They don't have too much trouble.
SS: How many elders would you say that there were in Walla Walla?
ML: one time there were three hundred and some Chinese people in WallaWalla.
SS: I mean elders.
ML: Well, anybody that— anybody over— it depends on the older of thegroup. That's all it is. You don't have to be— what do you call it— tne Chinese people are in the fifties, sixties, seventies. But even if you had a group of people that are all the way from fifteen or to forty, fifty, it don't make any difference. If those fourteen fifteen ones get into trouble, then that settles that. The elder usually gets their say in. Usually the oldest one has the most to say and the most respected one. They usually, not necessarily the oldest one— the oldest one. c respected one, because, there are some of 'em older that are— 'course, there are very few Chinese that get drunk, you know, there are very few Chinese that do that. But the Chinese, a lot of people are1:gamblers, they're pretty good gamb lers, some of 'em. But as a general rule — the elders are the most successful ones, and the what do you call it— he has the most to say. 'Cause he is the wisest one, because he's the most successful, he's the most wise one, therefore you have to give him respect from that point on. So that's how things are. If it getup to the point where you have to have to have just the one guy, then that one guy would determine, which is right, which is fair for both sides.K He is there because he is the most successful. Like I say, he accomplish what startout to do, see. So, at least take the word from the wise one, anyway. (Laughter)
MLL: Just because he's old, doesn't mean that he is— he's got to be respected, his family have to be nice people. I mean, he himself is gambler and a drunkard and a chase, chases women, and don't take care of his home— even though he's a hundred years old he's not respected. It's got to be a person that has done well, has worked hard and has enough common sense to save and — not because he's the richest, but because he may be the wisest in the way he raise his fam ily; in the way he does business; he's the most honest. He's the one that's respected. Not these roughnecks, you know. People that don't conform to what's right and what's wrong. We don't mean that. I wonder how he would judge— the way our courts work now they've got so many laws, so many different—Tearing the law— bending the law— bending the law to suit you.
SS: I wonder if he would judge on ethics, or how he would decide who wasright and who was wrong? He would listen to all— the people would listen to all the testimony, what both sides had to say—?
ML: No. I don't - they argue, what do you call it— as a general rulethe Chinese— where a family gathering like this- they don't study law that much. We have ethical law— that it is wrong to kill, it is wrong to steal, wrong to do the Ten Commandments— all these things here. And we base our thought on those things. But we don't— but supposing somebody chisels a little bit now, supposing somebody trying to bend the law, go chisel a little bit on that side, well, therefore, the elders all get together, four, five of 'em and they talk about it, and maybe they consider the fellow chisel—"Okay, you chisel, you are wrong." So that ends it right there. "You are wrong, so you have to straighten it out or do something,"
SS: If you said that you're chiseling, then what would they do? Make himpay money?
ML: Yeah. Make him pay up, you know.
Would they ever consider kicking somebody out of the community?
Oh, they do consider it if you are a really— what do you calll it—they do consider it. They all kind of ostracise you. Then you just all— you're alone. Then, you're just alone.
You have to be pretty bad to do that.
Yeah. You have to be pretty bad. You have to be really, pretty bad.Because, otherwise— the Chinese got nothing to do with you. You come in the store and nobody pay any attention.
Did the organization of the community in these meetings, did they havename that they called themselves as a group?
Yeah, they have aname. Idon't recall'now. They have aname forthat. If they have any trouble, then the people go to all those stores, they have a kind of messenger, "We gonna have a meeting tonight at the— what do you call it—and discuss certain problems." They do that. Then at a certain time, then everybody agree on a certain time they can get off and go there. ...Okay, they all go there and talk about it.
SS: Did you pay dues as well?
ML: They pay dues to their own family or their own store.
SS: Not to that—
Not to that, no. As a general rule they have a pot of tea there, youcan drink, they don't have no cake or no cookies, nothing like that. They just have a teapot, you know, if you want to drink tea, that s fine. Tea is like water, you know.
Then, there was a place that people could stay if they were comingthrough and traveling?
Yes. They got a roominghouse upstairs. Rooms up there, you see,if you want to stay for a few days or whatever you want to. And then they got new people that come in,you know, want to stay and look around for a job or something. Then if they want to work, okay, then the Chinese people say so-and-so come to town looking for some job, anybody got a job? So the gardeners or anybody else, they go and try to find you one. They try to find you one.
MLL: That's another thing about this about the beehive.This big house had, I would say, twenty-five, thirty rooms, and they would have two, three rooms way up there off in one wing, you know, that—
ML: Guest rooms.
MLL: Guest rooms. New families that come to town looking for jobs or goingthrough—
ML: Yeah, that right.
MLL: They are welcome to stay in this— these few rooms until they find ajob. Or at least stay during the time when they're in town. I mean, this is the way the Chinese people do. And they have nothing fancy, at least you're out of the rain, anyway. And maybe some of 'em had a little bit more luxury, and some a little bit less. They had a few upstairs for travelers and for people.out of work, and maybe some time even for old men that have no place to go. They stay there until their relatives can take care of them better; or friends or welfare or whatever, you know, can take care of them. It kind of a transit ional thing. That what the Mormon(?) have at this beehive house.
SS: I think in this one book that I brought along, that you might evenbe interested in looking at; called The Asian in the West. And this one guy has really done some interesting— trying to recover some of the old ways and what it was like. In British Columbia in the interior they found an old— I'll show you— I'll show you what it was— they've got some plates, you might even be able to read some of the—
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SS: They give translations from the Chinese. He calls it a tang.
SS: Tang. Yeah. The name of the tang— it was called the tang.
MLL: Tang is actually a tong. You're translating it, so; accent from one part tothe other is a little different, see. They do have rules, as I said. But the main Chinese rule is "Do unto others as you would like to have others do unto you." That's the main— all their life is that way. But when you get of the line that way; then they— if you get too mean, then they all ostracise you. They just won't talk to you. If you do something, all the stores won't give you credit, you're just there alone. When they look at you, they don't talk to you. They ignore you and then pretty soon you feel
SS: Did you ever know anybody that that happened to in Walla Walla?
ML: No. No. No. Maybe for a little while, maybe they do that. Some youngkids will get in a fight, and the older folks— then they jump on 'em and mostly just their family.do that.
SS: Then maybe they'd let up
ML: Yeah, yeah. That's right.
SS: But you know— what I'd really add to it, when you say about the rulesand regulations— I do have the idea that the people were very strong on not going to the authorities. Not going to—
ML: The American law. Yes. That's right.
MLL: They can take care of their trouble themselves.
ML: They don't want to go to the American law. In the first place, they ordon't know English, in the first place. And another place, in order to go to the American law, you have to hire a lawyer, you have to go to certain formalities, where when you're dealing with the Chinese group, you're in your own group, therefore you got your own law, you got your own things there, so you go a lot faster without, you know going through— the American law sometimes, I think goes to the other extreme. Dragging your feet, you know.
SS: I can see why you wouldn't want to trust the American law the way it was
ML: Yeah, that's right, that's right.
MLL: It was working against 'em.
ML: A lot of them were——
MLL: The Chinese people,they lose face— that means they lose their honor.Losing face means a lot to them. Chinese people, honor means a lot. A lot more than wealth, in things. So that lots of time keep them from doing things that they might have done— dishonor their family. Their family, especially, the old patriarch, you know, the father of the family; if you dishonor him, the rest of the family look down on you too. Beside the other families look down on you too. The other families look down on your family because you have such a prodi gal son, or daughter, who has done so much wrong; if you did wrong, you know.
SS: Would it take much wrong to be dishonored?
ML: Oh, yeah. Just have to do quite a bit, yeah.
MLL: It Nto be true.
ML: You have to do quite a bit before
MLL: They nave to maice suie chat such a thing is true before they— youknow— discredit you.
ML: Supposing a Chinese boy steals something from a store, or somethinglike that, little thing from the store.ftYou tell the father, the father always pay, without you drag him down to court. The father always pay for his son, although he take his son home and paddle his rear end. But he'll straighten that out.
MLL: Even if the kid don't know: any better, well, we'll say that if he don'tknow any better, he is forgiven. If he knows better and still do wrong then he have to be punished. And we will punish him at home a lot worse than he could be punished at the police station. At the police station maybe they fine him and let him go. Or maybe a little bit worse offense, one or two days in jail— what good does that do, you know? But if he's punished at home, he's told why he's being punished and the reasoning will help him a lot more. 'Course, the family life) it's very strong.
SS: Well, it's personal and it's not just society in general.
MLL: Well, its. the family, your own family, individual family, and then therest of your own lose, or whatever you call it, the whole family. It matters a little bit more, you know, to your own family, personal fam- Wily, of course, it matters almost as much to the rest of your family too. Not the person— I mean your whole village would be disgraced.
SS: Does this mean that there wasn't very much rebelliousness among theyoung, or was there still rebelliousness anyway?
ML: No. There was very little.
MLL: They are punished. That's one thing about our laws here today— onething why we have so much crime is because the crime goes unpunished. If all the crimes are punished according to what they should be punished- r a murder, sure, go out there and hang him or whatever, you know. If he's tried and he's found guilty, get rid of him. Why put him in jail, so he can have a chance to get out—
ML: In three or four years. Yes.
MLL: Fifteen years. Especially if they got money. That's not right. Hekilled somebody, and he has taken somebody else, life. But, of course, there's a lot of things come into consideration. Same thing like if you're at war, tell our young people go out there and kill the other young people. The other young people didn't do anything wrong. They didn't do our young boys any har|fc, but yet they were told to do that. So there's a lot to take into consideration about that. But, of course, that's war. But if you just deliberately go out and kill somebody 'cause you don't like them, that's murder. And when you're found out and you're guilty, why do they keep them in jail? We have to feed them. Why, what for? He's no good. If he did it once, he's going to do it again. I don't care how many of these psy chiatrists say,"Oh, they change." They don't change too much. Unless, there are circumstances.
ML: There's always exceptions, to everything.
MLL: , maybe you do something. There is exceptions, yes.But, to me, today, ours is not punishing the people that are doing the crimes. That's exactly why there is so much crime in this world.
SS: You told me before when we talked, I remember thinking about that inChina too, that the people weren't very confident in the court system, in the old days. Because they thought that there was a good chance they weren't going to get justice even if they deserved it.
ML: Yeah. Yeah. That's right. Because in the old time, in those days,too. In the real old days the world seem kind of funny that way— We go to a point where we go down and then we start rising and go the other way a little bit. The pendulum starts swinging the other way, when you get the other way, then have to come back. The same way in the court system— In the high court system in the old time when the king was real good, then everything was realgood, then there was justice. Then in the latter century or so, you see, the Chinese court was everybody for money. Just like the United States, fi everybody'for money, and so you get money they'll swing one way or the other. So that's one thing I respect the Communists right at the present time. In Mainland China I respect 'em from every res pect, because money doesn't mean anything to them. You have to go for the society, and that's it. I just happen to read in the maga zine here, the Sunday paper, somebody asked, "Does the actress or actor make the most money?" And the reporter said, that Chinese actress in Mainland China, she's a famous actress in Mailand China, for seven hundred, eight hundred million people, and she only gets five dollars a week. (Laughter) See here, this one here gets seventy thousand dollars a song!
SS: It sounds like from the way the families worked and the communityworked here, just here, from the way they— it was expected that each person would be responsible to the whole community, and wouldn't just act on his wn behalf and do whatever he felt like— sounds like that's a little similar to what the Communists are doing in China.
SS: Sounds like maybe that goes back to deep feelings in the Chinese people that they can work for the good of the group instead of just for their own good.
ML: Yes. See, the Chinese for a long time was based upon the family.The family as a unit. Just like a molecule. The mclecule is a unit. The Chinese figured if you can raise your family and run your family good, therefore, you can run the village. That's the next unit up, the little village, then if you can run that good, then you run the county, and you run the state, you run that good, then you can run the government. That's the way the Chinese — based upon the theory that way, see. But if you can manage those things ar do well, then you can run the whole thing. If you can manage China well, then you can run the whole world well. See, because, that based upon the theory that you can do that.
SS: It sounds Confusian.
ML: Yes, that's what Confusius did. Yeah, that's what Confusius'based upon the family. I don't know, sometimes I don't know, whether this idea—in a ways before China was bad too, then the families got so strong— the bigger families got bigger and then they fight amongst themselves. One family fight against the other family, because, in other words, the county and the state government wasn't strong enough to cover the family. In other words,— but now at the present time the central government controls the whole works and everybodyhave to work for one unit.
SS: One thing, this man the way he looks at it and traces the differentgroups— he says, and I'm curious to know if you think this is true he says that the first-|ongs or the secret societies was the Triadhe calls it the Triad Society, but he says that it started in China in about the seventeenth century, and it was a movement to—was against being—Dynasty want to restore the Ming Dynasty. And that was the beginning of what became the societies— the tongs in America when they came over. Then when they came over here, they brought it over.
ML: Yeah, to a certain point. At that time, you see, those families weretogether back in China. When they come over here they all in one unit by itself, so if you happened to be a Smith and a Jones that was friends in China— although you lived in different part of the coun try, therefore, when you get to the United States, then you waM friends, one another. So therefore, you just automatically go there because so respect you that way. That's all. You have to have that in order to survive.: Otherwise, individually taey knock you off and you have no way of doing it. It was survival, that's what it is.
SS: But then, he talks about another,besides the families, and besidesthe societies— another group that he talks about— he calls it the Or I don't know how you'd say it. But it's what they sometimes called the six companies.
ML: Yeah, what do you call it?
SS: And he said that that was separate in Chinatown in San Francisco.
ML: Oh, yeah.
SS: That that was led by the merchants.
ML: Yeah. 11 just like a chamber of commerce. Something like a chamber of commerce. See, the merchants tl get together, and then they form it so they can import. The merchants do it themselves to con trol the thing, too, see. Otherwise — the one, like I say, wheffcyou come from the tong—when Smith and Jones come together— that one doesn't do business, see. That one— we are related because our an cestors way back there are related, so therefore, we are friends. But actually, we help one another out financially, but we don't do business. I do some business for you— as a general rule, we don't. Although we can get together and pot up some money, then go into business. That's fine, but it would not be— doing business that way. See where the other one, the six companies, those guys are mer chants, just like a chamber of commerce. In other words, those mer chants have got to get together in order to— what they importotherwise one of 'em import one and one of 'em import something else. You go back to China, you buy something, then one of 'em sell it cheaper than the other and pretty soon they have trouble all along. So they formed one company here in order to get things straight, so everybody have the same equal. You know, equality on it, see. Just like a chamber of commerce.
SS: Was there anything like that in Walla Walla?
ML: No. We weren't in that much of business. It wasn't that big. Wedon't import too much in Walla Walla. The only thing, just a little food for the three hundred— at one time there were three hundred and some, but after that, there wasn't that many. They just gradual ly die down.
MLL: Just the necessities.
ML: Yeah, necessities.
MLL: Chinese fish, maybe, that we don't have over here, they had to importthat.
ML: Yeah, on top of that, too, they form a in case somebodysome truck gardener would like to have — buy a horse, or buy a truck or buy something, you know. Wagon, or something, that the American people would give it to them, providing the store would okay it. Oth erwise, individually they wouldn't because the American people can't tell one Chinese from the other Chinese/ But if the store say, "I'll guarantee it." That was fine.
SS: Well, in Walla Walla did most of the power rest wiifo the family, ordid it rest with the whole organization?
ML: Most of the power went to the elders, mostly. To the elder people,you know, because they ran— a-
MLL: But the elders made up of the families. Member of the different families.
ML: Yeah, that's right.
MLL: Maybe one or two Lews and one or two Wongs and one or two Engs. Representativeslike in the House of Congress, you know.
SS: So then the family itself wasn't nearly as strong as the whole community.
ML: No. No. No.
SS: They had the final say if there was a—
ML: They don't say anything unless you get into trouble. They don'tsay anything. Do anything they want.
MLL: They can take their problems to the elders. And the elders consistof all the families. At first though, I think they go tofamily first,
MLL: First your own family. Then the family, there flould be six or sevenLew families, and then maybe the elder ones from the six or seven families from the Lews, they decide that— what's best for thi one individual— for this one family. Then if they can't decide, then they go to the general assembly, like Washington, D.C. Same thing like a city and a county and then the state and then the federal, see. Only, in our way to do it, we don't vote for just certain individuals. We vote for our own eldest one in the family to represent us, because we think they're the wisest one.
ML: And one other reason, too after we got the person straightened out,we don't talk about it. When the thing is dead, it's left there. We don't go out there and say— and some of us say, "Oh, he did soand- so-and-so-and-so." That ends it there. So, if the fellow takes it, everything is smooth. Nobody say he did this. That the feeling that he's a crook — or hesomething like that. That ends it there. He won't do it anymore, and that ends it all.
MLL: He did the wrong thing and if the elders say he did do wrong, if headmits that he do wrong, why that ends it. I guess. But what if he don't admit that he did do wrong?
ML: What if he don't admit that he did wrong?
ML: Well, then, as I say, he get ostracized.
MLL: Then the other people don't give him a job. They will not let himcome in. You go the daughter's, or, you know.
ML: No, just by himself.
MLL: Cannot come to our parties. He just is not invited to anything thatgoes on for the rest of the family.
SS: Did the whole community-decide, you know, the council, did they decide who was going to work where, or who would work on the different farms. How was that decided?
ML: That decided between you and me. They all get together more or lessa partnership. See, if you were the farmer and you know a little bit about driving truck, okay, you be driving the truck. If I'm the far mer, I know how to plant seed, okay, I'm the seed planter. Then if somebody else know how to irrigate, okay, I'm the irrigator. And so, that's the way they work it; together.
SS: If we had eight guys, let's say, working on one of these truck gardens together.
SS: Did they all share in it equally? Or did one guy—
ML: Uh-huh. They share equal. They have one guy that know-how to plantthe seed, the season when to plant and when to harvest it. They have one guy that does that. But he doesn't get any more than anybody else does. He doesn't work shorter hours than anybody else does. In that respect, see. Not because he knows more he gonna work less hours. No. He work the same hours, but his work would be different, that's all. He works the same hours. You don't know, okay, you go ahead and weed the garden. The thing that you know, you go ahead and do it. Maybe the only value to that guy that knows a little bit about it, he might have to go to a— once in a while he go up town to go to a meeting or something, you know, to tell 'em what should be planted here to yield more— to get more, or something like that. He has that advantage to go up town and don't have to do that little work in between times. But, neverthe less, he's on business for the place. When the end of the year come, they divide everybody equal. Take out the board and room— pay all expenses, then everybody equal.
MLL: And then when they buy, they buy the whole lot. Just because he worksout in the garden, he don't have to be a gardner, he could be the cook and the housekeeper. Of course, there wouldn't be enough cook ing for him to spend the whole day there. Depends on how big the farm is. If he does have to take the whole day to cook, then he don't work out on the farm at all. But he just do all the cooking, and maybe somebody else do some other kind of work. Whatever work, is divided among equally.
Oh, I want to tell you, this is what Mi dehydrate, sweet potato, Imean, yam. I just want you to try it. He just made it. See, I am diabetic, you know, so I'm not supposed to, but I splurge once in a while, you know, like anybody that has a sweet tooth. So he dehydrates these things. No sugar, but just dehydrated, and I chew on those instead of chewing on a piece of candy or cookie.
SS: These are excellent.
MLL: Oh, these are almond cookies I got from Los Angeles.
SS: Really good.
MLL: Do you like that? I think this is a sweet potato, that's a yam. Idon't know why one is— one's a sweet potato and the other a yam? That's a sweet potato and that's a yam. About the truck gardening. Was the rent that they had to pay on the land, was it high? The amount of money they had to pay? Well, of course, it depend on the landlord, you know. Some landlords were, at that time. .jthe American people. they homesteaded. There were a lot of those at that time. And they were willing to rent it to them fairly cheap, because they hire Chinese there for a long time, and otherwise they just plant pasture or a little grass or a little wheat or something,, and it doesn't pay them. Most of those farmers are— they got about forty acres or something. Most of them were small. They got about forty acres or something. So when they plant wheat they don't get too much for it because they're too small a chunk to cut. Although they have a little hay. But the Chinese people pay 'em a little more than they get out of hay. So I think At that time they pay thirty-five to forty-five dollars an acre for a year. That's what they usually pay. Some of 'em fifty. Afterwards they got a little more than that. But that the general pay. But that pretty good, you know at that time. You can buy land for about a hundred or a hundred and twenty-five dollars an acre.
MLL: Less than that at that time.
MLL: Hurst's Grandfather— We saw Hurst— 'course this is the thirdtime we saw it— fifty cents an acre. But then the guy say, "Well, don't buy it now, for that much. 'Cause you won't get it."
ML: two hundred and eighty-five thousand acres. Hursts.
SS: So people could afford to rent the land.
ML: Well, .have to rent the land. You see the Chinese can t own it.So they have to rent it. Otherwise Chinese would own most of that land, you see. So they have to just rent it, that's all they can do.
SS: Did they have a hard time finding people who would rent them land?
ML: Oh, yeah. They don't have too much hard trouble that way. Becauseas a general rule the Chinese will keep the weeds out and keep the thing pretty good that way. So they don't have too much trouble.
SS: Was there any particular kind of land that they looked for? Landthat they preferred?
ML: Oh, yes, sure, They would like to have agriculture— truck gardenland.' Fairly good soil, level, because they have to irrigate it. You can't have it on a hillside or anything like that, you see. So they try to— at that time, you see, the town wasn't built out too far, you know. There's lots of those but now they got them all in lots. So that's how it is. Otherwise, they didn't have too much, Like I say, one time there was twenty-five gardens in Walla Walla, all around that territory. Now it's just houses all over the place now.
MLL: Now there's only one garden.
ML: Now there's houses. The Italians buy five acres, six acres and theybuild a home there, then they go ahead and plant a littleonions, a little asparagus on it. And they make a kind a little living on it and that's all.
SS: How did they irrigate?
ML: Water. Water.
SS: But how did they— did they just dig trenches?
Yeah. Yeah. They di trenches. They have no sprinkler system.
And the modern day, today, they use sprinklers.
Oh, yeah.A That's all they used to—when you have a garden, you gottahave a spring, you gotta have water run through the land. So they put a little dam there, and then just run into a ditch.
They're using sprinklers for about forty years now, isn't it?
I don't think it is that long. Just in the last— what do you call it?Well, thirty years at least. When diyou finish school? About thirty years ago? And, of course, in the old days you have to get up in the middle of the night to go and move your hoses, too, you know. So he have to do that. I know for years he had to do that. This is the last time wekdown there, now he owns a truck garden farm. They themself have fifty, sixty acres— no, fifty acres at the most— the original one's forty—and then they bought ten more, and they are still renting some, too. Every year they rent— they go into sugar beets now. Sugar beets and spinach and Chinese vegetables.
SS: What would you guess, at the end of the year and after it was all divided and all the costs were paid, including the rent on the land, how much do you think that a guy would make? Well, that depends from year to year. That's just like a farmer I been raising garden quite a long time and I know some years, some good years, they make a thousand, twelve hundred dollars, and some years not so good, they come out only maybe a hundred dollars, maybe a hundred and fifty dollars. Very seldom, you hear 'em lose. Because they always make enough to pay the board bill and the land rent, see. But outside that, they get nothing for themselves some years. I've seen 'em that, see. I, myself, one of the Chinese gave me a garden there because it wasn't doing any good— the price wasn't good— I sold onions for twenty-five cents a sack, a hundred pounds. I've sold 'em myself. I was only a high school boy at that time. And the onion market was glutted, you know, and those produce houses
ML: I went to Portland myself, I was just a high school kid then. I wentto Portland myself, and I sold six carloads of onions, myself. And I only sold 'em for twenty-five cents a sack. Then, of course, the Chinese people— you know I was a boy— and they sold it to me for fifteen cents a sack. Because I have to have a little bit in order that— to what do you call it— Truck them from Walla Walla to Portland. Then, I sold six cars of it, and those six cars at that time, was a hundred pound sacks. And one car-- about three hundred and fifty sacks to a car— a carload. I had to go and load the cars. I had to go load the cars because, that's my commission off of it. And I had to go and get the money back from the produce houses, to pay them off. And, of course, like I say, they always trusted me, so they all bring their onions up to me and I loaded— and INpay an other boy to help me- so we load the onions, in the car. That the first time I went to Portland to do any kind of business that way, and, of course, I was in high school at that time. I think the first or second year. So I just went to Portland.
MLL: That's in about 1923,cause 1925 you came to college.
SS: Sounds like a lot of responsibility.
ML: It is, for a boy. I know when I got the check for that much money,I think it must be— I forgot how much it was—little boy, little high school kid, and I went to the bank and tried to get it cashed and pay these people off, they looked at me and then they asked me who I was, and then I had to go and had to have some of the older Chinese that knows me say it was OK before they would cash it. Do you remember the trip to Portland? I mean when you were in Port land, what you did? Sounds like pretty much of an adventure. There was one of the Chinese boys that haul stuff to Portland. He haul stuff to Portland. Sojl got a ride with him, you see. He want to sell too, so I went along with him. I went along with him, then, of course, when I went down there I look up the produce dealer at the Pacific Fruit and then at that time there was two, three other- Ryan Fruit and all that other stuff that sell these fruit to produce. I told 'em I'll sell them the onions for twenty-five cents f.o.b. loaded right onto to Walla Walla, to them. That so cheap, they say, "Okay", so each one of 'em "took a few cars. So, after I got home I had to go call the railroad company up to get the cars the.sid ing so I can load them there, and then on top of that I have to load, stack 'em up five or six high in order to—
MLL: And that twenty-five cents for a hundred pounds? They don't sell 'emhundred pounds anymore, most of these are fifty pounds today. Fifty pounds the other day was thirty-four dollars, not very long ago.
SS: The first time you went to Portland, did you go by train?
ML: No. With a truck. We had a little truck, to go down there then.
MLL: But you load the onion on the train, huh?
ML: Oh, yeah. On cars.
SS: Did you have to go with the onions to Portland?
ML: No. No. Just as soon as I load it on and seal it, tell the railroadthe car on a certain siding, then haul it down to Portland.
SS: When you were in Portland did you stay with relatives?
ML: No. I just stayed there one day. Went down there and come back.Just as soon as you get the order, you see, those guys wanted it right now. In order to do that I have to— at that time you can't go to Portland in five hours like you do now, see— at that time take you pretty nearly all day to go to Portland. Just as soon as I come back they say they like to have a certain— what do you call it—so you do it right away. And you got to give these people time to cut their onions and load— sack their onions, too. It took you a while to do it.
MLL: Now, that's twenty-five cents a sack, andm't forget it costs youso much for the bag, too. And it cost you so much to raise the onion, it cost you so much to cut 'em,.bag 'em, and to— you say f.o.b. from Walla Walla? As soon as he load 'em onto the train at the siding at Walla Walla, then his job is done. That's twenty-five cents f.o.b..
SS: What did you make from that?
ML: Oh, I made, oh, let's see, I've forgotten what I made, I think Imade about a hundred fifty, hundred seventy-five dollars, something like that. See, I have to pay somebody to help me load and all that other stuff, too, you know.
SS: Was it your idea, or was it your father's?
ML: My idea. Oh, I had to figure out some way to get rid of it. I usedto go and haul vegetables up from— tj-16 Cninese don't want it— I used to go and haul cabbage up and give it to the grocery store. The produce houses, they got to make a certain percent, or they won't handle it at all. But I can, growirl can cut it, and give it to them and make the same price as I would to the producer. And the producer could— I mean the retailer could sell it and make a little bit money that the producer otherwise would get. So that's why I say, that the government controlling these things is not good. They should let the producer push it out to sell it and then the thing would stop. This way here, the commission house gotta make something and then ship it to Seattle or Spokane, and the Spokane houses got to truck it down here and then the prices goes up so high. It's hard to do. Maybe you get a little better profit sometimes, but not always. But this way here; the farmer raises it, okay, he sells it, then you have to eliminate maybe two middlemen. He probably eliminate
MLL: I think of the time when you were thinking about selling th onionytoo, you know. Not only thinking of making a little money, but, he sees all the onions there on the field; no market for it, so he thought he would do them a little favor, too, in order to get them, and so the farmer want to give him a little commission, so he sellto him for fifteen cents a sack—
ML: You know, onions are quite a hard thing to do, you know. If youdon't get rid of it, they'll sprouc on you. You plow it under, they'll still sprout on you. You have more trouble. You have to scoop 'em all in one pile and chop 'em all up or something, cause, they're not like other things, you just plow over, lettuce or something. Plow it over, and that ends it. Because it won't sprout. But onions, you plow it over and the next spring you're got onions all over the place.
SS: You got a plot to garden yourself that year?
ML: Oh, no. I work in the garden all time, you know. Every summer.
MLL: He work after school. He ride a bicycle out there. Every summertimehe was out there, too.
SS: It sounds to me like— the little I know about gardening and abouthand gardening, that it would be pretty hard work.
ML: It is, it's hard work. It's back-aching work. You have to crawlon your hands and knees, then weed it. Sometimes on your hands and knees, you got rock, you know, it a little rocky, you hit your knee— that funny bone on your knee. (Laughter) It isn't a job that the American people like, you know, it's only the Italians that do these kind of work.
MLL: But one summer, though, you know, the onion crop was so bad— thatwas when you was in college— the price was so bad foronions, the onion crop was good, but the price was so bad that one of the garden ers said, "Mi, you take my field of onion, do what you can with it." So, he made a little money that summer, too. That the only time though. I never heard about this one, that f± load the onion. I remember he told me about the other one.
SS: Even when you were in college you worked the summer— you still worked in the summer?
ML: Yeah. I go back and work. I have to work a little bit for my ownspending money, you know.
MLL: His father give him tuition.
ML: Tuition, but I still gotta have a little bit of —
MLL: He still has to work for his own spending money, clothes and stuffthat way, you see.
SS: What did you do when you worked in the garden, was it weeding, mostly?
ML: Oh, everything. Everything. Just like anything else. 'Course I'mthe huskiest one, so therefore, I did most of the loading. (Laughter) You know, the lifting. So I load most of the time. It dependson what you are able to do the best for them, see. You don't expect that an older manto go ahead and load all these onions, because you'd the poor guy's back. So, therefore when you're big, you're husky you do what you can do the best.
SS: This twelve, fourteen hours a day of work, though.
MLL: More than twelve or fourteen hours.
ML: I tell you, you get up about five o'clock, then you wash your face,then they eat breakfast, then you go to work about six o'clock in the morning. Six o'clock in thummertime the sun is up pretty good, see. So, you go to work there/ you work until about ten o clock, then you have a little— what do you call it?— about, maybe fifteen minutes or so. They bring you out a little bread and a few cookies and may be if the bosses are good, they buy you a donut or so with a little donut and tea, or cracker. Then after that you go til twelve o'clock noon, and then you eat.
MLL: You go back to the farmhouse.You go back to the farmhouse to eat, where the people work, you know the) cook. Where they sleep. It's a little farmhouse where all the men that work there, they live there, you know, they don't go back to town.
ML: Some of them live three, four miles out— and they don't have any family. Married men, but they don't have a family. They all live in one house on the field.
ML: Just like a bunkhouse. Like these migratory workers.
MLL: One house, outhouse, too.
MLL: They don't have any running water.
SS: What kind of beds?
ML: Oh, board. Chinese usually sleep in board beds.
MLL: Had to pump water.
SS: What about the mattress?
ML: No, board, .board. One of the reason you don't have mattressestoo much is, you got bugs on 'em, see. So you better have just a board. You know, your floor's dirt, you know a dirt floor, so you have insects in the thing that way that crawls around a little bit. But where you have a board it doesn't make any difference.
MLL: Very primitive.
SS: Then the lunch is at twelve?
ML: Yeah. At one o'clock- you rest from twelve to one. You eat andrest. If you eat fast, you rest a little bit longer. If you eat slow, you rest about fifteen minutes or so.
MLL: One hour.
ML: You get one hour off, then you work until eight o'clock at nighttime,
ML: About four o'clock, you get off for tea again.
MLL: Tea and donut.
ML: Or watermelon, or something like that. f\ot M.
MLL: If that year happen to be a good year, maybe he'll give you a pieceof cake.
ML: Or buy a ham, and make sandwiches.
SS: Who was the boss?
MLL: You know, the head guy.
ML: The group, you know, there's always one person that goes out and sellsthings. Reconsidered that because he speaks English, and he goes out and takes orders, see. Supposing you want so many hundred sacks onions today, why he have to go take orders for it, see? And so he buys the groceries. If the prices are gooood, then he brings home something, a little-effect
MLL: Of course, that's taken out of the whole
MLL: Everybody gtstheir share, you know.
ML: Everybody has a share, so they don't mind.
MLL: They take it out of the pot. He takes it out of the pot to buy whatever grocery he needs.
SS: So, it's six in the morning to eight at night?
ML: Nighttime. Yeah.
MLL: At least. And if somebody want an order in a hurry you have to workthat much longer in order to get that order out. Or, if your vegetables have to be cut right now, by tomorrow, itnot so good. You cut it at the best condition. You work longer today and get it out into the warehouse or to a produce man, so you can get the best price for your produce. Then you have to work harder. You always have to work until seven to eight o'clock at nightTanyway. Until you can't see anymore outside. And then you go back to the house and kerosene lamps. And then you see, — of course, he doesn't stay out there because he have a place to stay with his father in one room.
ML: Oh, I stay out there in the summer.
MLL: never knew that, I thought you always go back to Walla Walla. 'Coursethat's only about five or six miles.
ML: Well, that's a long time, after you get through working fourteen hoursa day, and then you have to go ride a bicycle— But nobody minds it, because everybody, having a share.
MLL: When you were in grade school you never had a bicycle either.
ML: That s a long time.
SS: Then when harvest was over did the men go back into Walla Walla forthe winter?
ML: No. Some of 'em go when the things over in the wintertime there isn'ttoo much to do, then some men stay in Walla Walla overnight, but as a general rule, they go back to their place, because, during the win ter months they have to clean the irrigation ditches and things that way, you know. There things they have to do. Their fields, you see, Ncfyou have to cut all the weeds so when the springtime come then everything will run smooth again, see. Once the vegetables get growing you haven't go time to clean the ditches.
SS: So, it's the year around.
ML: Yes, but it's not so hectic in the winter.
MLL: You can take a day off to straighten out your affair, you know. Ifyou want— maybe sometime, they can even maybe go off for one or two days.
ML: Yeah, you can.
SS: I suppose they want to go into to town, Walla Walla.
ML: Every weekend they go— every Saturday, they eat supper at five o'clockinstead of eight o'clock, they get off at five o'clock, they eat sup per at five o'clock, then they go -.to town, and stay in there until about eleven. Then they come on home.
MLL: Then they all get into one taxi.
ML: Yeah, one truck or one taxi, or sometimes they got a little truck themselves, and they all get in there and they all come back. Every Sat urday. Then when the circus comes to town, they get a day off. And when it rains, they get a day off. So those are the days—
MLL: It only raiiw so hard that they can't work outdoors. If it just sprinkle it possibly that they can work outside, and they still work.
ML: When the circus comej then they get day off.
SS: When they went to town on Saturday, what would they do? Maybe gamble.
ML: Yeah, gamble little bit. Lot of 'em gamble.
SS: Did they stop in the stores then?
ML: No, some of 'em goes to shows, and some of 'em go to the stores, andsome of 'em gamble a little bit.
MLL: And probably they— and they usually have a room where probably—kind of a gathering room. Some of theirfriends from the other farms come in, too, and chew the fat, you know. Maybe they play a few hands of Mah-Jongg-
ML: Mah-Jongg, and they play cards and they play everything.
MLL: And they could go into one of the rooms at the store, whichever storehas the most room, probably that's the place where they usually gather especially if the man is pretty nice about letting them use a room or maybe have a pot of tea sitting around, and have a few teacups that are clean. And they can do that or something like that. It's kind of a community affair and kind of get-together social, that's all the social life that they have all year long. Maybe on Chinese New Year, they go to—
ML: They get two weeks off.
SS: How many of the people do you think, just as a guess, how many peoplelived in town as compared to those that lived out on the farms, in the farmhouses?
ML: Well, I would say about fifteen percent, live in town.
MLL: So about eighty-five percent. truck garden
ML: Of the three hundred- there was only two women.
MLL: Two women that had families.
ML: All the rest of 'em were bachelors.
MLL: See, they weren't allowed to have their wives come over. There,your restrictions again. And it was very hard, you had to be a bus iness man, with lotsof string tied to it. You have to unravel all that, you know. It take years in order to get your wife over.
SS: I read that the wives who were here were more or less seclusive inthe early days. They very rarely went out.
MLL: They don't go out to buy groceries. The husbands go out buygroceries.They stay at home.
ML: Because, they can't speak English in the first place, you see, that'swhy they're secluded. You know, when you go some place, a strange land you don't speak the language, therefore, you have to stay home.
SS: It must have been a very lonely life for them—
ML: It is.
SS: America with no other women.
ML: Yeah, that right. It is. That's right.
MLL: Well, just like the pioneer women. How many women are together inthe pioneer days? You live ten miles away from each other, you don't get to see each other, maybe four or five times a year. Because it's hard to feet around to see each other.
SS: In this that I was reading a couple of writers say that the biggestpart of the problem was that it was very unnatural to not be able to have the families.
ML: That's right.
MLL: Especially where the Chinese family is the main thing.
ML: They're close. The Chinese famly is
MLL: But, one reason, too, why all these wives that are left back in Chinaof this three hundred men that are more than half of them are married, you know. They left their wiethere. They don't go and remarry. They don't go divorce their husbands. The ones that are lucky are the ones that— like this truck garden, if they happen to have a good — a few good years, they save their money, don't spend it, and then they're lucky to be able to get back to China and stay one or two months with their family and their wiYe Some of the ones that don't make too much money, they don't get back at all to see their wives. We've known many, many newly married bridegrooms that come over here— when they come over here they say, "Oh, we're going to try to work hard." But sometimes circumstances that they cannot save enough to go back. If they go back, they have to have enough money to live on and maybe a little bit of luxury, be cause what's the use to go back? They would be a detriment to their family back there, because there would be no more money senback tor them to live on. While they here, they send a little money back there, the family can live back there. But if they themself go back there that means the income is cut off and then they have to live on what they save, or what their wife has saved.. the time when they did have a little money. So, many, many, of these married men don't even get a chance to go back at all. It's only the, oh, well— I think more than half— at least two-thirds of the husbands do get to go back there. It's just a scarce case that the husbands don't get to go back.
SS: How long do you think they went back and stayed permanently insteadof coming back here again?
MLL: They don't go back there permanently until they can't work over hereanymore.
ML: They like to go back to die.
MLL: That true. As long as they can work over here and be frugal andsaving and if they happen to be very good at business and business has been good to them, there have been good years, then they can go back in twenty years, thirty years, maybe, and stay thefe . But, usually when they cannot work any more over here before they go back permanently to stay. But, when they are young, and left their young wives back there, then they usually like to go back as often as they can, but usually, these oftentimes turn out to be six or seven years in between. That's why, in my own family, I was born after my father came over here—they were married four years or whatever— I was born after my father came here, and then my sister is six years younger. So you can imagine how long my father was over here before he went back. At least five and a half years, I would say, because it takes nine months for a child. Well, my sister was six years younger, and then my father came back over here again. But we were lucky, he was able to send for us then. We came over in 1920. And so my sister was born— she was thirteen years younger than I am, she was born in 1923. So, we came over in 1920-'21— the Christmas of 1920, which is almost 1921. So she was born two years after we came over here. So, you can tell how often the men go back by the children's ages al most. Unless they're single, you know, that's naturally-\Wy CWtWvehL
SS: Do you remember at all about what it would cost for a man to go backover and then back over to here again? For his passage both ways?
MLL: Well, Mi can tell you a little more about that. He went back in 1929.How much did it cost you? A hundred and twenty-five dollars one way? One way.
ML: You go on the boat, it cost about a hundred and fifty.
MLL: On the boat.
SS: One way?
MLL: One way. From Seattle.
ML: Twenty-three days over.
MLL: Yeah, twenty-three days.
ML: On a freighter, a freighter boat, you know.
MLL: Yeah, he went back— you went back on a freighter?
ML: On the Blue Funnel Line, almost all freight and a few passengers.
SS: Did the men go back in groups? Or just by themselves?
MLL: No, by themselves, but by the time they get in the hold there'll beplenty of friends. Not friends, but young men about the same age— Chinese people going back to Hong Kong.
SS: Did you ever run into trouble trying to get back into the UnitedStates after they went back?
MLL: Of course, you have to get your passport to come back. You can onlystay there for one year. Altogether, taking the time to go over and the time to get back. From the time you leave here in the States until you come back, you have to be gone— you can only go for twelve months. So, you see, you can't impregnate a woman twice you know, your wife twice. N And then, later on, they fc-fend the rules, and I think you can re— what you call it?— reissue for another six months. You know, an extension, for six more months. Afterwards, that's quite a bit later on. Of course, you know, there's different as a young man went- he just graduated from Washington State— back to look over the situation, see what he can do with his civil engineering degree. That's what he went back for in 1929. Of course, you know, he didn't have too much money, just graduated and his father didn't have too much money, either. He run a restaurant and a restaurant and fuewsjy- after 1929, you don't save much each year. So, he took the cheapest he can get. I think you had one of the— bed that swingle
ML: Yeah, yeah, you do. Like in the navy, except they're not so good.
MLL: And that cost a hundred and fifty dollars, see. Well, I imagine it'smore like a big room, -
ML: Great big storage room.
MLL: Can women—?
ML: Women had a different section. Yeah.
MLL: Well, we were a little luckier when we came over. We have a roomwith six beds in it, 'course with three of us, you know— I think it was four bed— well, whatever it is—it's still quite inexpensive- f- It's not first class. But, he went back in a lot lower than we did, 'cause we have one room and one washbasin. You had to go out to the bathroom. And, of course, at that time we didn't know anything about— we don't speak English or anything. Empress of Russia, that's what I came in.
MLL: I think it was a Canadian boat. Empress of Russia. And there was—of course, we were lucky, we were the only three that happened to be in this room, butother people could have been in—so we use the same washbasin.
ML: You were on what was considered a passenger— the Empress of Russiawas a passenger ship. I go on a freighter boat. These freight boats haul more freight and maybe fifty or seventy-five passengers.
SS: What were the quarters like for the passengers on the freighter thatyou were on?
ML: Like I said, the freight wasn't full, so they have a deck where youhang the hammocks on, so you sleep in the hammock, then they have Ltables there so you can eat.
MLL: During the daytime, probably they hang the hammock up, so it won'tbe swinging and you can walk under them.
ML: No, they have tables there where you can eat, you see. And after dinner you can play cards. It just a big room, that's all.
MLL: And they have to pull out these tables— the table have to be set—I know our tables always set— everything's stuck on the—
ML: Nailed boat.
MLL: In those days, see, the boat, it would rock around, you know
SS: — or dishes might slide.
MLL: Yeah, everything slide off. And that was considered to be a prettygood sized boat at that time. That's like I say— Empress of Russia. But it take us twenty-one or twenty-two days from Hong Kong to Vic toria. Oh, it must be a Canadian boat, because we landed in Victoria. And then we had to take a smaller boat from Victoria into Seattle for immigration. And, at that time, immigration— we have to stay in immigration quite a few days. There's a place in the building where you stay there until you'rt "V0C€sd through. You don't come straight out, you know.
SS: Was that ?
MLL: That's me, in 1920.
SS: Was that what they made Chinese people do?
SS: Did they make everybody do that?
MLL: All the Chinese people, only with us, we had to sit there for fortydays. I don't know why or anything. And we were fed American food at this place in Seattle. We couldn't stand American food. I'd never had American food, you see, and I couldn't stand. , it just gimaws on my throat. You know, put butter on the bread.. And so for a long time Inever did get used to butter' w Just put a little cinnamon and sugar. I know what cinnamon and sugar is, we eat that, so we just put that on our bread, you know.
SS: Was this in Seattle?
MLL: In Seattle, in December 1920.
SS: What did you do during the days when you had to wait? tiV
MLL: You stay there, and you talk with the other people there. But thebuilding basement have a wire— have crossbars, and you don't get out. Of course, all the women are on one floor and the men are on the an other floor. We don't stay with the men. That's segregated, of course. And very few bathroom facilities.
SS: Were most of the people there Chinese?
MLL: It's been so long ago, I was only ten years old.
ML: I Chinese. Most of the people that come to Seattle are Chinese, thereare no European people coming this way.
MLL: Yes, I'm pretty sure it was all Chinese.
SS: Was your father stuck there at the same time?
MLL: No, my father was already here. He sent for us to come. Us threecome together. Immigrants. That's the first time I come now.
SS: When your father—
MLL: He was already here.
SS: He managed to get his family over.
SS: But very few people did during that period of time.
MLL: Yes. He was herb doctor in Spokane by that time, already.
SS: Is that the reason he could get his family ?
MLL: Yes, he's a business man. We come as business daughters.
ML: I think your dad must have had the church—
MLL: Yes, the Central Christian Church sponsor us a little bit, maybe.Not too much; he was a good Christian, but I don't think they had too much to do with it. But,his paper have to be on good condition. I mean, everything had to be straight. At that time I was ten and my sister was four. My mother haul her in one of those bundles,you know. You saw the It's a piece of— like a bag, you know—
SS: Strapped around—
MLL: Yes, with four belts. You tie around the neck and then the feetcome up this way— in a cloth, something like a pillowcase, only on the corners they got four belts stitched on. And my mother car ried her on her back so she can have the use of her hands to hold the luggage. Oh, at that time, you know, we weren't loaded, so we didn't have too many suitcases; mostly in bags, you know, you tie it up and— Chinese bags, too, and you had to haul your bags, and of course, me being ten years old, I couldn't haul too much, you know. So, my moth er have to use two hands for that, so she strap my sister on her back. She was only four years old then.
SS: Did she ship a trunk as well?
MLL: No, we didn't have any trunk.
SS: Just what she could carry?
MLL: Yes. But I think though, they allow you to have quite a bit of baggage.
ML: Fifty pounds.
SS: Fifty pounds a person?
MLL: Yeah, I think so. We didn't have enough money to buy a hundred andfifty pounds of stuff. So, we just took what have.
SS: Did you take any personal things of your own as a child?
MLL: No. I don't remember a thing what I— I didn't have very much. Overthere you don't have too much. Well, you know, we don't have dolls and trains to play with. You know what we have? You know, the Chinese pots and pans? They use clay things to do. Well, a spout comes off of a pot, why that's what we get to play with. You don't play with dolls and things. You just play with whatever that's broken off some of the other stuff, you know. So, consequently—.1 did have five years of Chinese, which I was more lucky than a lot of other Chinese people have, 'cause we were living in town when we left. We were living in Canton. That's where we visited his mother in 1972. When we went back, his mother was living there, zw se they lived there when he went back in 1929— they already move out there from the village, long before that.
SS: You went to school?
MLL: I went to school in Canton.
SS: If you would have been in the country you wouldn't have had thechance to go to school?
MLL: Yes, I was one of the lucky ones to have— we had a little bit morethan the poorer class, you know. I would say we were lower average, or the average. Because, you have to be average in order to have a— have your father over here in the first place. See, my grandfather had to have a little bit— a little plot of land or something, you know, sell the plot of land in order to have my father over here.
SS: So, if the head of the family, the father was over here then, thenthat meant the family was better off?
MLL: Of course. Anybody that's over here could make more money than whatyou can make in China. I mean, as far as wages is concerned. This is the land of opportunity!! Well, about Europe? You know that there's better T,rages here than in Europe, even today. Our wages better here. Well, in Canada, for a time it was not so good, but now I think they re taa par now with us.
SS: You say your grandfather he had— what did his having a plot ofground have to do with your father—
MLL: Because he can sell the plot of ground and send my father over here.The passage alone, you know,— if you haven't got the passage, you can't send him over, can you?
SS: I read in here that a lot of people— a lot of the men that came overborrowed to come over.
MLL: Yes, yes, they can borrow and they can beg and they can sell the babygirls there and get the money. But if you have a plot of land, and that's better than selling your daughter, .it? You can sell the plot of land lot easier than selling your daughter, in order to send your son over here. So that what my grandfather did. He sell his plot of land.
ML: Chinese consider, just like a home, you know. If you own- landthat—
MLL: That you always go back there and got a place to stay.
ML: Chinese consider land very essential.
SS: But if your grandfather sold his land, then he didn't have any—
MLL: But he still have a house. The house is in a village, but your landis close to the village, so he sell the land but we still have the house.
SS: What part of your father's earnings would he send back to China?Did he send most of it back?
MLL: Whatever he can, you know. Itbdependfcaon whether we have any incomeback there or not. Of course, selling the plot of land, we certainly wouldn't have any income. Of course, I think my grandfather was over here, too. I think they both were over here. Yeah, I'm sure my grand father was here. They both came together. I think he sell the plot of land and both of them come together. But they settle in Spokane and then later on, I know my father say he went to Coeur d'Alene to work in the restaurant. He worked in the restaurant in Spokane, that where he worked first. He was only twenty years old when he came over here. And he went to a little bit of school, not too much. School in Spokane. Now, I don't know how much he got, but he speaks English qvite well. So I imagine he must have went to school quite a bit, you know. And then he stay over here and then later on, my grand father died. I think he went back to China and died.
SS: It was your grandfather who brought and who suppliedthe Hope- Was he the one that supplied the the railroad ?
MLL: No, no, I don't think my grandfather work on the railroad.
SS: No. I thought that somebody, I thought it was a relative, had supplied the—
MLL: No. No. This is livery good friend, he used to live at Hope, Idaho.
MLL: He get Chinese people to work on the railroad. Hemore what theycall section hand. boss, section boss. He lived at Hope, Idaho until not very long ago and he passed away.
SS: I read, too, in the early days when men first came over here, thatthe women were reluctant to leave China, in the beginning, to follow.
SS: Then by the time that they were more willing to come, that then theyweren't allowed to come. Do you think that most of the women, a great er part would have come if they could in 1900, around there?
MLL: I think they would still) be a little bit reluctant. I know my motherwas reluctant to coming over. I think it was the end of 1920,,we came over, I am sure that wasn't the first time my father approached her about coming over. Because she,,leaving all her friends there and her father and mother there, her sisters and brothers .there, and you go into a strange land, whNyou don't know the language. See when she come over here all she got is my father. She have to depend on my father. There is only one guy that can take care of her, and if he happened to be turned to be cruel or do something and leave her or something, well she be out. But if she,, in China she still have her father and mother, at least a place where she can go home and take me and my sister home, at least for a short time. Some place to stay. And her own brothers and sisters and friends and all there you see. It's hard to come over. I know many and many a day she cried because— but she finally decided— I don't know whether my father make an issue of her coming over, or whether she decif.e she come over but we finally decided that we do come over. I knew quite a bit that she didn't like to, at first coming over, and that was in the end of 1920.
SS: Do you think she discussed her decision with her family?
MLL: Of course, she would discuss that with her family. Probably they saythat)the best thing to do. Of course, then in the meantime, you see, he'd been over here once as a boy when he was twenty years old, then he went back and then he studied this herb in Hong Kong, and that's when they lived together and my sister was born then, the first time he went back. So, in 1916 when she was born. So between then and 1918 before he came back over here. And he went back there and stud ied the herb thing— medicine— in Hong Kong, then he came back over here and he established himself in the herb business in Spokane. Which was his home when he came over the first time. So, when he came back he already got, there, you see. Chinese people know him. And the church people know him, too, because he was a Christ ian. He was one of the few that were Christian at that time. Now, of course, lot more Chinese people Christian, but in the older day why they—
SS: Did he become Christian after he came to the United States?
MLL: Yes. I am pretty sure, in Spokane. The Central Christian Church inSpokane, there.a group of older women took him under wing, you know. He was only a twenty year old boy and probably he went to Sunday School or church in the first place and then they got him under their winga little bit, and probably that where he learn most of his Eng lish, too. And going maybe to night school— they have night school at Lewis and Clark .in Spokane.
SS: Do you happen to remember when you first saw your father?
MLL: I was six.
SS: Do you remember that?
MLL: You bet I remember.. I saw him the first time in China. In China, youknow when he came back, when my sister was born in 1916. Well, any way, of course I was very spoiled because my mother— all she had to do was take care of me and go to school, Up until I was six years old I could do as I want to. In fact, I think she said she suckled me until I was two years old. Everything surround me. Anything I want to do— well, the first time I won't mind him, He put me someplace and I don't have dinner. And, oh, it made my mother cry, too. I cried and my mother cried, everybody cried. But he can seethat I was very spoiled. So that's that. Okay. But there again, you see, from 1918 until— 1916, '17, '18- somewhere around there until almost 1921 before I see him again. Well, he's used to having people- so the first time I saw him in the station building, he say, "Come over here and give me a hug." I wasn't going to hug a man that I hadn t seen, that I don't know. I said, "No!" That's the first time I remember. yiri China we're not very demonstrative, you know. Over here, probably he got the idea you know, he see other children hugging their fath ers and mothers. I never go and hug my mother even as close as we are, we don't do those things. If we love them, we do things for them, we get things for them, but we don't go up and kiss and hug 'em, you know. So when my father say, "Come over here and give me a kiss." You know kiss on the cheek and hug me, you know, I say, "No, nothing doing." And I went as far away in that room, as far away from him as I can. He didn't force me then, because we were in the immigra tion office and there were other people there, too. I remembered that though. And I remember the first time I wouldn't do what my father told me to do. He send me off and I didn't get any dinner, and we all cried— I mean my mother and I did. But that the first time then, you know.
SS: It's hard not to see your own parent.
MLL: First time I saw him, when I was six years old. See, I wasborn after he came over here. So never knew my father.
SS: He probably didn't hardly know what to do with you—
MLL: No, with me either. He's twenty years older than I am , so at thattime he's twenty-six years old. And I was six. And over here, you know, people obey their parents. Of course, I obey up to a certain point, too, but I was spoiled, I know that. I don't see why I have to do everything, like you should.
SS: Was he strict with you?
MLL: No. No, he not any more strict— but he liked to have well behavedchildren. We understand him. He not strict. He. very liberal, because I was one of the first Chinese girls that get to start to college anyway, when I was home. One of the first ones in this whole Northwest— one of them. .Other people graduated, too, but being as old as I am, I was one of the first ones get to go tocollege. So, he had always believed in educating girls, too.
SS: Did your mother have much to do with that, do you think? Or do youthink it was mostly just him?
MLL: my father. My mother doesnt do anything except do what hiswishes. She just one of those women, you know, brought up in the old way? Like they say, a woman when they're born they listen to their father, when they marry, they listen to their husbands, when they get older, they listen to their sons. ktime they have to live with their sons. So they got three men in their life. Their father, their husband, and the son . That's their attitude.
SS: Do you think that being alone was— the separation was any harder—do you think it was harder on the wives, or was it harder on the hus bands? Or was it just equally hard on both of them to be separated. Did the wives have the easier time because they had the family ties?
MLL: I think the wives .an easier time, yeah, than the men, you know.Well, you figure— the men have tOginake a living, enough to support their wives back there, you know, wife and children, to whatever children tasy have. And sometime maybe, a father and mother, you know. If there is enough hardship, they have to do that, you see. And he has to go out and buck against the world, while the wife is protected, because when a man comes over here, he will send a part of his earnings back there to— enough to support the wife, let's just say that. If he sends more, the wife can save a part, and then she'll save a part. If he just sends enough to support the family, that's all there is. Maybe he might have saved a little bit over here, see, instead of sending for her to save over there. Depend ing on the situation among themselves, you know. Between themselves.
SS: As the situation changed, more women did trickle into the UnitedStates.
MLL: Oh, yes, yes.
SS: When do you think it started getting a little better.
ML: After the war. ro
MLL: Well, I think as soon as they're allowed more to come in.
ML: They didn't allow until after the second war, you know.
MLL: The law was changed so much all the time, you know.
ML: After the Second war, then the Chinese people become citizens. Whenthey become citizens, then they can buy land. And when they become citizens,they bring their wives over, because the wife is a citizen wife. So like the soldiers go over in Asia and marry Japan ese girl, they got their wife, see, they bring her over. Before that you couldn't.
MLL: Before a citizen cannot bring his wife over, even after they becomecitizen, they cqftfiot bring their wife over. .A business man can bring his wife over here easier than a citizen can. I don't know why, but that's how come we came — my mother came as a businessman's wife and we come as businessman's children.
ML: Well, one of the reasons is because at that time they feel that thebusinessman . is not a citizen. See, he dpn't have to become a citi zen. Therefore, he can bring his wife over here. But if you're a citizen here, then you go back there to China and get married— because there are some girls here that want to marry these people. Therefore, they buck against it— go outsideand bring her back in here. Because, otherwise, they all go back there and get one, and then leave these here be old maids. That's one of the reasons
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80:00 - Few Chinese women immigrated; Difficulties of family separation; Travelling to China and America
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Segment Synopsis: Extremely few Chinese women in America. Marriage continued despite separation of partners. Efforts of men to return to China to visit wives and family; most continued to work in America until they were too old to do so. Men could only leave state for one year without losing immigration status. Taking the ship to America and China.
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