The Early Years

My grandfather came to San Francisco in 1877 from the Kwangtung Province, China, as a merchant and an educator. My grandmother was born in San Francisco Chinatown, and met my grandfather in 1900. H.K. was born in 1907 in a cottage in Portsmouth Square. The 1906 earthquake and fire demolished much of San Francisco. All of Chinatown went up in flames, taking with it all of my grandparent’s properties, their stores, and all of their life savings. My grandparents had 12 children. After the earthquake, raising their large family became a huge challenge for my grandparents. To survive, my grandfather was forced to take any job he could, just to feed the family. He worked at various jobs in liquor stores, restaurants, and laundries.

The family moved to Oxnard, California in 1917, where they settled for three years. My grandmother raised chickens and grew vegetables on the family farm, in Oxnard, while my grandfather operated the Alhambra Hospital laundry in Los Angeles.

San Francisco Chinatown

The family moved back to San Francisco in 1920, where my grandfather invested in a restaurant and worked as a bookkeeper until he retired in 1937. From 1921 to 1932, H.K. worked for Wing Lee Hardware and Furniture Store in San Francisco, first as an apprentice and clerk, and later as a buyer. For a short while, from 1938 to 1939, my dad worked as a teller at the Bank of Canton.

San Francisco Chinatown, 1920s – 1930s

The Wong Poultry Farm

From 1942 to 1945, my grandmother operated the Wong Poultry Farm in Niles, California. The farm was sizeable, with three barns, a tractor, water tank, gas tanks, and two plots for vegetables and fruit. A dog named Captain Daniel McGrew MacGlue, nicknamed Danny, was also part of the family. By October 1943, eggs were being harvested from more than 6,000 chickens.

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