Great-grandson of Hom Yi Yoon
Interviewee: Gary Hom (Great-Grandson of Hom Yi Yoon)
Interviewer: Connie Young Yu and Barre Fong
Date: March 27, 2015
Location: Palo Alto, California
Length of the Interview: 54 minutes, 10 seconds
00:14 Yu: So Gary, could you give your name and where you’re from, where you’re born please?
00:20 Gary Hom: I’m Gary Hom, I’m born in the village in China. It’s called Che Pai village in the eighth district in Canton. I came to the U.S. 1940 from Hong Kong. The trip took about 30 days on ship, it’s the President Coolidge. That was the last trip on that ship as a commercial ship because it was turned into a transport for the US army afterwards, it was sunk. I found out the history.
01:18 Yu: As a child, when were you born?
01:20 Gary Hom: I was born actually in ’33 but I kind of tagged in 1935 because they want me to go into the first grade in school instead of up in the special class, so they changed my birthday. I went to school in San Francisco, I went for past the sixth grade. During the eighth grade I moved down to San Carlos and after work, and go to high school in Redwood City. That was a different experience from the City. After I graduated from high school, I went back to San Francisco because I didn’t care to work on the farm. The unfortunate event at that time, I discovered the doctor thought I had TB. So I was offered surgery and I accepted that over bedrest. Fortunately they found it was cancer. So I had survived cancer, lung cancer. Then I got into business in the graphic arts. After quite a few years of business, I retired. And that’s back in ’78.
03:31 Yu: You have deep roots in America. You came to America during the Exclusion Law. How were you able to?
03:41 Gary Hom: [laughs] Well that’s a subject that we all – it’s all open now, you know? My grandfather was born here so he’s a citizen, except that he decided he didn’t want to stay when he retired, so he had planned to go back and retire in the village. And he sold my father’s birth certificate to somebody else to keep him home. So after that, it blocked my possibilities. And my grandmother found out about it and decided that it would be right for her to get a paper for one of her grandchildren, so she happens to have bought a paper from my father’s cousin–lost a child in a Hong Kong accident. So I replaced him and then when I got here I was about seven. And started school. Of course during that time we were very active. I had some paper routes and would shine shoes for money and we’re able to get out spending money for movies and things like that.
Gary Hom summarizes his immigration experience to the United States, and his experiences in school. He was misdiagnosed with tuberculosis and survived lung cancer. His grandmother purchased a cousin’s birth certificate so that Hom could immigrate to the U.S.
Gary Hom; Che Pai (ancestral village); Eighth district Canton; Hong Kong; President Coolidge; San Francisco; San Carlos; Redwood City; Tuberculosis; Lung cancer; Chinese Exclusion Act; Hom Yet (grandfather); Father; Birth certificates
Chinese Americans–Employment; Chinese Americans–Education; Immigration and the transnational experience; Tuberculosis–Diagnosis; Immigrants–Legal status, laws, etc.–United States
05:38 Yu: You mentioned that your grandfather was born in the United States. He must have been the son of the railroad worker. What was your grandfather’s name, and where was he born?
05:55 Gary Hom: My grandfather’s name is Hom Yip, he was born in San Mateo. According to the papers and interrogation when he went to China to get married and then come back, he came back as a native, and the questions–it was very careful during that time. Anyway, he was able to travel back and forth. He got married after having my father and he made another trip back, brought his wife over, and left his son there. My father was about 16 at that time. And he got him a wife instead to keep him company.
07:04 Yu: You’re the great-grandson of Hong Yi Yoon. He was a railroad worker.
07:14 Gary Hom: He was the one that came first, yeah.
07:17 Yu: Tell us about him and how you know so much about him.
07:21 Gary Hom: I read on some research on the genealogy in the National Archives in San Bruno. I looked for the grandmother and grandfather. I found their files and I guess Melissa Liu–she helped me locate them. Among the papers, there was the testimony of Hom Mi Yu. His testimony was for Hom Yip as a native coming back. Of course, they questioned him about his relationship. So it turned out that he was revealing a lot of things that I never knew.
08:26 Yu: Did he give the year–did Hom Mi Yu give the year when he came to the United States?
08:32 Gary Hom: Yes, I have it in my binder there. I think it was 1869 or ’68, around there. It was in the Chinese state. And Su Li helped me transfer it over to the western calendar.
09:04 Yu: How did you know that he worked on the *inaudible*
09:09 Hom: Even before I knew about the archives, my grandmother used to tell me how my family came about, over here. She said he signed up to be a railroad worker, a laborer, and was able to come here during the time in China when there was a big famine. I suppose that’s the best way to do, is to leave China at that time.
09:43 Yu: Was he from Toisan?
09:47 Hom: Toisan is actually her village, and it’s close enough to that area. And I suppose labor contractors scoured around that area, understand there’s more Toisan people than…So I suppose he was more adventurous. He kind of left home early?
Hom Yip, Gary Hom’s grandfather, traveled back and forth between the U.S. and China multiple times. Hom talks about his research at the National Archives and his great-grandfather’s different jobs.
Hom Yip (grandfather); San Mateo; Father; Hom Yi Yoon (great-grandfather); National Archives (San Bruno); Melissa Liu; Hom Mi Yu; Su Li; Chinese calendar; Grandmother; Railroad workers; Chinese laborers; Famines; Toisan
Immigrants–Legal status, laws, etc.–United States; Family history; Railroad workers; National Archives and Records Administration (U.S.); Immigration and the transnational experience
10:19 Yu: After he worked on the railroad, what other kinds of work did he do?
10:27 Hom: I just found that in the testimony there, he says he works for William Henry Crocker. He is a cook. He also got into business with a bunch of Chinese stores where he sold provisions and things to other Chinese around the area. I think he was in business in Sacramento too, and then he had to go back to working. He said he went back to labor, which I assume he was laboring on the railroad. Because he started working two years on that job. And then he got into business, and then he got married, that kind of surprised me that he found an eligible girl in Sacramento.
11:40 Yu: Do you know, did he come alone, or did he come with other people?
11:48 Hom: I think he came with a brother because he did indicate he had a brother there, and I think in his family there was four brothers. I’m not too sure, three or four, and that’s when I found out the names of the brothers.
12:15 Yu: From the testimony. So when he testifies that he used to work as a cook for William Crocker, this would be the son of—
12:27 Hom: That’s the son of Charles Crocker, yeah.
12:31 Yu: And did he say how old he was and how long he worked?
12:35 Hom: He said he was 54 at that time, it was 1905 in his testimony. And my grandfather had certificate of birth made out so that he was able to travel back.
12:59 Yu: Do you have any anecdotes or stories about him working for the Crocker family?
13:11 Hom: There was a funny story that grandma said. He was, as a cook, he was serving game birds to the boss. The boss was wondering how did he catch those game birds, quails, without buckshots? So he asked him and found out that he took his leftover rice, his own dinner, soaked it with rice wine, fed it to the birds, and just catched them when they’re staggering around. So I thought that was pretty good, funny story. And during that time–in fact, even when I was living on the farm, I was shooting pheasants, so we ate pretty well.
14:19 Yu: When he worked for the Crocker family, did he live in that house? Did he live in Burlingame?
14:26 ÊHom: I have no idea that he did. Since he had the store in San Mateo, I assumed that he probably lived at the store because that’s where my grandfather was born.
14:43 Yu: So back to the railroad work, we have talked to descendants who have looked up–tried to find the names of their ancestors on the payroll. Have you looked into that to see if you can find–
14:58 Hom: I haven’t. Connections to that, so I will try to find it because it will be interesting.
15:06 Yu: We’ll try to look also *inaudible*
15:15 Hom: See, I just kind of put things together when my grandma say he worked at the railroad, and the railroad did work up to the Sierra. Then he got married in Sacramento. That’s kind of a progression I thought was very logical.
15:39 Yu: I think the year that he came was very important, because if we’re looking at the years from 1865-1869 that’s the years of the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. So if he came during that time they worked on the railroad, it would be key.
15:59 Hom: According to the estimate, he would have came at ’69 unless my translation of the dates are not that good. And I look at the timeline of the records. He might be one of those that put on ten miles a day. Because he worked two years and he retired.
16:35 Yu: How old was he when he retired?
16:38 Hom: He was 18.
16:42 Yu: Still a working age.
Gary Hom describes Hom Yi Yoon’s experiences working as a cook for the Crocker family and as a store-owner. He also deliberates on the year that his great-grandfather immigrated and may have worked on the Transcontinental Railroad.
Hom Yi Yoon (great-grandfather); William Henry Crocker; Chinese stores; Sacramento; Chinese marriages; Chinese cooks; Hom Yip (grandfather); Charles Crocker; Burlingame; San Mateo; Payroll records; Birth certificates; Grandmother; Transcontinental Railroad
Chinese American businesspeople–California; Chinese cooking; Chinese-American women–CaliforniaÑHistory
16:43 Hom: He was born in ’50 or ’51, according to the conversion from the Chinese calendar, and I think at that age he was probably pretty adventurous, to be able to leave home.
17:03 Yu: Do you have a photograph of your great-grandfather?
17:09 Hom: I have, when he returned to China, when he retired, he had the whole family portrait professionally photographed. So I have a copy of that.
17:25 Yu: But the fact that he got a job working for the Crocker family, that’s quite a connection to the Big Four and the railroad.
17:35 Hom: That’s how I draw a conclusion that he must have. Because he said that he labored for two years and then another two years. I just say, why didn’t he say railroad?
17:50 Yu: Do you have any dishes that he’s famous in the family for cooking, besides the quail story? Any other culinary–
18:01 Hom: Well, that’s all I can remember, but I’m sure there must be.
18:08 Yu: Do you know if he was well-paid?
18:12 Hom: I have no idea, but I think the family did rely on him to send money. And that’s usually the custom.
18:26 Yu: So you were born in the village in China. Is this the same village your great-grandfather came from?
18:31 Hom: Mhmm. In fact, he and my grandfather did well in business. They went back and built houses for the other brothers and there was four houses built, still standing today. They bought land and I suppose they didn’t farm it , they were just landlord.
19:07 Yu: Do you know the name of the village?
Hom’s great-grandfather was born around 1950 and worked as (potentially) a railroad worker and a cook for the Crocker family. Hom was born in the ancestral village, and his grandfather and great-grandfather bought land in the village.
Chinese calendar; Hom Yi Yoon (great-grandfather); Family photographs; Crocker family; Chinese chefs; Big Four; Transcontinental Railroad; Chinese railroad workers; Remittances; Ancestral villages; Hom Yip (grandfather)
Family–Pictorial works; Chinese cooking; Chinese American businesspeople
19:18 Hom: Instead of having the army check me out, I went to my own doctor. It happens the doctor had a fluoroscopic machine that was new in those days. He looked at my chest. He spent quite a bit of time, I think I got my lifetime’s worth of radiation. Anyways, he found a suspicious shadow in there so he sent me to a specialist. Dr. Faughber was head of that division in UC San Francisco. And he looked at me as a Chinese young man, says “TB.” So he sent me to a sanitorium. I was there a little over six months, ran out of money, so he sent me home and said, “Stay home and take the risk here at home.” And continued getting injections at his office. That happened over a year. I felt that it was unproductive, wasting my life just laying in bed, so I decided to take the surgery offer. But that, after the surgery, they told my folks that the tumor was a very rare type and so that one–I guess what happened is that afterwards I was able to be active and took up tennis, actually. And I guess that helped. They found a shadow on the right lung, so they kind of gave up on…But after about 3-4 years, that shadow disappeared. So they were very, very surprised.
Gary Hom; Fluoroscopic machines; UC San Francisco (UCSF); Tuberculosis (TB); Sanitoriums; Lung cancer
Tuberculosis–Social aspects; Misdiagnosis; Lung–Cancer; Chinese Americans–Medical care–Social aspects
21:56 Yu: You went back to the village. You went to visit the village.
21:59 Hom: I went back–this is many years afterwards. Because after the communist takeover, at one point they allow my mother to leave. So she took one of my niece, because they allow the older people and the younger people to leave because they lack food. So she went out of Macau. And I think that was back in 1970 some-odd, I just happened to feel that I need to go back and see. So I made a tour trip, and went to Macau, was able to see her, and she gave me all her treasures, like her gold to take back to–actually my sister. She just was, she died a month later. So then I didn’t visit back for a few years, until I went with Linette. We went to visit her grandma.
23:36 Yu: What year was that?
23:39 Hom: What year was it? I think back in about–well I met you ’81. So it must be ’83 or ’82.
23:54 Yu: Did you go to, in Toisan, did you go to visit the grave of your great-grandma?
24:04 Hom: I didn’t know where it was. The other descendant didn’t know. But my parents’ grave–we did go for that.
24:18 Yu: Your great-grandfather, Hong Yi Yoon, he was buried in China.
24:24 Hom: He was buried in China but we don’t know where. I don’t know how we missed it but it was back in–well, I think he died probably around 1912 or something around there.
24:47 Yu: Did you say that he had his son who built a house–the house in the village that is still there?
24:53 Hom: His son, yeah, that’s my grandfather. They had houses built. The part I think I find that will be interesting is that the great-grandfather, the railroad worker who went home fairly well-off, and he was kidnapped. And the custom of kidnapping at that time was because–it was quite lawless. The empress, the last emperor lost his power. Beijing is so far away from us that there’s no policing. And one of the things about the kidnapping in China is that they don’t feed you. So my great-grandmother had to bring food to him. So each time she shows up, they know when she’s showing up, they would suspend him, tie him by his big toe and hang him from a tree upside down. That would get the wife very encouraged to ransom him. So all the land was sold for ransom.
26:34 Fong: What was the name of the village?
26:36 Hom: Che Pai.
26:37 Fong: Do you know the district or the area?
26:41 Hom: It was in walking distance of the city part called Dao Mun.
26:56 Yu: I visited there in September, I went to Dao Mun. That’s my native–on my father’s side. Those are Hong San people.
27:07 Yu: So Dao Mun is very close to Macau.
27:20 Hom: It’s very close. In fact, when I remember, I was waken early in the morning as a child. Auntie carried me to San Pan. I know there’s a small river going along, near a village. So I was put down on San Pan and about four of us, I guess, they had some boatman row us up to Dao Mun. There’s another area where we took off in a car–that’s the first time I ever rode in a car–and they had about three people in back, three people in front, four people hanging on the sideboard, and we all drove out to a ferry. The ferry took the car and all of us across to Hong Kong. We stayed in Hong Kong for a year.
28:46 Yu: It’s very interesting that you talked about your ancestor coming from Dao Mun, or the Hong San area because we’ve interviewed two descendants whose great-grandfathers are from that area. And they settled in the Sacramento Delta area. But it’s always been accepted that a majority of the railroad workers for the Central Pacific came from Toisan. But we have some exceptions here.
29:19 Hom: Yeah, and I suppose the contractors ran out of Toisan people. *laughs*
Hom recounts visiting his family in China after the Communist Revolution. He recounts the story of his great-grandfather’s kidnapping, and the location of the ancestral village (Che Pai) in the Hong San area near Macau.
Che Pai (ancestral village); Communist Revolution; Macau; Famine; Mother; Sister; Grandmother; Toisan; Hong Yi Yoon (great-grandfather); Graves; Hom Yip (grandfather); Kidnapping; Dao Mun; Hong San; San Pan; Hong Kong; Sacramento Delta; Central Pacific Railroad; Labor contractors
Communist–China; Graves; Kidnapping–China, SoutheastÑCases
29:30 Yu: ÊYour great-grandfather was successful in business, so he must have been able to read or write. Do you know if he learned to read or write in China, or after coming here?
29:42 Hom: Well in the Chinese language, he learned in China. And I’m sure he must pick up a little bit of English to get by.
29:50 Yu: Do you see his signature in English?
29:56 Hom: Yeah. So in the testimony, he has signed it.
30:03 Yu: Are there any other pieces of paper connected with him that your family saved?
30:08 Hom: With his name?
30:11 Yu: Or about him?
30:13 Hom: Well I didn’t search for his name, but it just happened that his testimony was with my grandfather’s name. And I guess I can go back and search for his name.
30:32 Yu: Do you have his certificate of residence by any chance? With the picture?
30:41 Hom: He has a picture attached to his testimony, and that’s the only picture that I’ve found of him, besides the family one, when he was old. I guess there’s supposed to be a bunch of ancestral paintings in the village community center. In fact, my niece just made a trip back there, and she made a video documentary of the village, and the ancestral paintings. So I’m waiting to hear from her.
31:37 Yu: Did you have any sisters or brothers in here or China? Did your great-grandfather have any other children besides your grandfather, either in the U.S. or in China?
31:54 Hom: His first-born was born in Sacramento in 1875. And that’s the older uncle, that grand-uncle.
32:17 Yu: Back to your great-grandfather. After he was ransomed, of course he must have suffered quite a bit. But he was released and the land was sold. So he had to rebuild again or have his brothers, you know, do the building of the house.
32:37 Hom: Well the house was already in existence. In fact, he lived in the house that I was born in for–until he died.
32:49 Yu: It’s still there.
32:54 Hom: It’s still there. In fact I had spent some money to fix the–because my nephew insists that we should keep it up.
33:11 Yu: Do you know if there was an ancestral tablet in the house with his name on it?
33:20 Hom: I didn’t see it when I was there. It–surprisingly, how small the house is compared to how I envisioned it when I was there when I was little. Thought it was quite a large house.
33:39 Yu: But there’s still the utensils and the cutlery and the objects from that era?
33:46 Hom: The furniture is still there, I don’t know if it’s from his era. But there’s a bed, a teakwood bed with canopy that my parents slept in. I suppose there were other furniture, like tablets and things. But I didn’t try to look for things. So I was hoping that my niece would find something.
34:25 Yu: How about the period where he was in America. Did he have any memorabilia of working for the Crocker family?
34:32 Hom: No. That’s actually pretty far because my grandmother said everything is lost during the earthquake. And they move over to Oakland to live. After Oakland they came back to San Francisco. So by that time my great-grandfather had died, I think.
Yu asks about Hom Yi Yoon’s literacy, pictures and papers, and the family house in Che Pai.
Hom Yi Yoon (great-grandfather); Literacy; Certificates of residence; Ancestral paintings; Village community center; Sister; Family house; Ancestral tablets; Crocker family; San Francisco earthquake; Oakland; San Francisco
Literacy–China; Family papers; Family–Pictorial works; Family history
35:04 Yu: So you always knew that your great-grandfather worked on the railroad.
35:11 Hom: The family story–that’s how he got out of China. I’ve always knew that–in fact, I wrote about it before this came up.
35:25 Yu: What did you write about? Your feelings about his work on the railroad?
35:31 Hom: Grandma was telling me back in the ’40s, she was telling me stories that I guess I was the only one to listen to.
35:44 Yu: Can you share any of the reminiscence?
35:50 Hom: Concerning?
35:53 Yu: Your grandmother’s stories.
35:55 Hom: She was telling us, telling me, they grew flowers in Belmont. I looked up the history, some history that was written about Belmont and some of the flower growers. There was the story by some lady author that a doctor went up the hill to see a patient, a Chinese woman giving birth. And the doctors told her to rest after and then when he went back to his office, he had a call to go up to see another patient. So he went past the same hill, and he saw the lady picking flowers, and I think that’s grandma. And that was my uncle that’s born. So anyways, that’s one of the stories she told us.
37:14 Yu: Was your family involved with any family association or district association?
37:20 Hom: Oh, yes. They call Yip Sing Tong. It’s still in business on Washington street. The meeting hall was over a restaurant. And I forgot the name of the restaurant, but it’s probably two doors from that Golden Dragon Restaurant.
37:55 Yu: So is Hom your real name? How do you say it in Chinese?
38:01 Hom: Tom.
38:03 Yu: Tom.
Hom shares an anecdote about his grandmother’s flower-growing work in Belmont. His family was associated with the Yip Sing Tong family association.
Hom Yi Yoon (great-grandfather); Family story; Grandmother; Belmont; Chinese flower-growers; Family associations; District associations; Yip Sing Tong; Golden Dragon Restaurant
Family history; Chinese Americans–Societies, etc; Chinese American authors
38:05 Hom: It’s–one of the story that I want to say is I read a book by Judy Young, and I looked at her family picture. I said, “Oh, I know the father.” And so I start trying to look her up and finally found her at the book signing at the Fort Mason. So I got a friend over and got a book and said, I’m your cousin. So I started talking and we find out that I think one of her great-grandfathers is my great-grandfather’s brother. So it turned out I know her parents, so.
39:11 Yu: She’s from–her family’s from Dao Mun also. That’s where I’m from. And she and I were–put together some of the local history for this casing hall at the district association, listing a lot of people who were prominent in the village here. But the first railroad worker descendant they have *inaudible* But that is something. Wow. Did she have any other reminisces about her grandfather?
39:50 Hom: Well, the distance in years is quite a bit, so all I can rely is what grandma said.
40:00 Yu: But the flower growing is very important because many of the people from Dao Mun were flower growers. And some of them leased land from Jane Stanford. The land that had to be sold, do you know what they farmed on that land?
40:19 Hom: I think it was rice, as far as I’ve heard. They grew rice and, I just can’t remember. I think there was records on how many acres or hectares they got. It’s quite a few.
40:43 Yu: You mentioned something about jewelry. Does your grandmother or any ancestors in the village–have any gold or jade?
40:57 Hom: Gold. Gold coins. That’s a very *inaudible* gold coin bracelets.
41:04 Yu: American coins.
41:06 Hom: Yeah. I brought it back and gave it to my sister because she knew my mother and you know, designated to give it to her.
41:19 Yu: That’s very interesting. That’s part of that tradition of the railroad workers saving money and passing on some jewelry to their descendants.
41:31 Hom: Yeah. I remember my mother had given two bracelets and I had to carry it here. It went through custom, and I was standing in line, and I looked over the next custom agent. It was my friend. So I grabbed my suitcase, ran over to him, and he looks at me and says, “Don’t talk to me.” So I wondered why. He says, “I don’t know you.” So he looked through and says, “Go,” he hands it to me and says, “Okay.” So later on he told me, “I could get in trouble if I acknowledged that I know you.” *laughs* It was very interesting that, you know, things…I guess the custom holds true. They send jewelry home.
Gary Hom discovers that he is related to Judy Young. Hom and Yu discuss the importance of Dao Mun flower-growers. Hom recounts the gold coin bracelets passed down in his family.
Judy Young; Dao Mun; District associations; Flower-growing; Jane Stanford; Rice-growing; Jewelry; Gold coin bracelets
Chinese American authors; Chinese Americans–Societies, etc; Flower growers; Chinese–Clothing & dress
42:55 Yu: Are there other descendants from your railroad worker–your great-grandfather–who are still in China?
43:05 Hom: I have no idea which–I do have a book that’s a genealogy put together by an uncle. But he did it all in Chinese. And he–I remember him when he was over here, he retired back to China. He and his brother both–I guess the Homs are pretty good cooks because his brother is a chef at St. Francis. And he likes to teach me how to cook.
43:51 Yu: What’s his specialty?
43:53 Hom: He did just about everything. But he taught me how to bake.
44:01 Yu: In China there’s a Chrysanthemum Association. I’m wondering if you knew anything about the Chrysanthemums–because your ancestors grew Chrysanthemums.
44:18 Hom: Yeah, that’s what they grew and in fact one of the cousins was here when he was young, he came over and he worked with me alongside. He taught me how to do a lot of the jobs because my uncle owned the place, and he’s not a good teacher. So he’s always yelling at me. His name is Ho Ji. Subsequently, he became very wealthy. He has a lot of properties that he bought in Cupertino and he sold. He moved down to Morgan Hill. He’s owned a lot of property in Morgan Hill. He’s always teasing me. He wants me to do well, he’s trying to push me. He, I think, is the one that sent the money back to build the Chrysanthemum Association. I know he had a school built. He spent a lot of money even back–
45:55 Yu: When I went to Dao Mun in September, and I was first visiting Toisan, and then my friend and I were met by people from Dao Mun, and it was a very nice car that picked us up. It was a van. I found out it was paid for by the Bay Area Chrysanthemum Association. In China. So there’s quite a connection, and it remains.
Hom’s uncle works as a cook at St. Francis. Gary Hom’s cousin, Ho Ji, started a Chrysanthemum Association that funds projects in Dao Mun, China.
Hom Yi Yoon (great-grandfather); Genealogies; Chinese cooks; Bay Area Chrysanthemum Association; Chinese flower-growers; Ho Ji (cousin); Cupertino; Morgan Hill; Toisan; Theme parks
Chinese–Genealogy; Chinese cooking; Chinese Americans–Societies, etc; Flower growers
46:20 Hom: I think there’s also–must be a theme park or something in that area, around a lake. I’m not too sure, but they talk about it. And I think he was the financial backer behind it.
46:41 Yu: I can see why the bandits wanted to kidnap your great-grandfather. He comes from Gum San, Gold Mountain, he must have some money.
46:51 Hom: Exactly. Especially when he bought all these lands, they figured it out. I guess just the wrong timing. He should have stayed there
47:04 Yu: So when you wrote about, did you express how you felt about the–this effect that–were you proud of your great-grandfather?
47:13 Hom: Oh, yes. It’s a base, kind of a background. You can base your life going through. Because I work in the same industry for a while, you know what they have to do to earn their keep. So it’s hard work, but you know. In fact, the one that did the genealogy, his family was in the flower-growing. In fact, off the Alpine road, Menlo Park. They had a big family of I think four or five girls, one boy. And two brothers. They bought land in Milpitas next to the Ford plant. They did very well. They retired from that. Those are the cousins we still have connections with.
48:42 Yu: Thank you so much for sharing your time with us. We understand you brought some images.
48:58 Hom: This is the picture of the railroad worker.
49:07 Fong: That’s okay, you can just sit back.
49:14 Hom: This is the testimonial that–three pages. This is my grandfather. This is the store next to the train station in San Mateo that…I picked that out of the book in San Mateo. All the different book towns that this publisher put out. This is the family portrait. This picture is over a hundred years old. Unfortunately I took it out to scan and I cracked the real-up so I’m gonna have to photoshop it back. This was before he died. I know all of the people there. At least their relationship. In fact, this baby, she died last year at 90-something. So. These are some of the relatives back in the 40s that traveled back to China.
50:57 Yu: Is that you? Are you in the picture?
51:00 Hom: No, this is my uncle. And this is my grandmother in the back. And he’s the one that did the Chinese genealogy. And this is the chef at St. Francis. So there’s quite a bit of history in some of it. I kept all these photos because my hobby is photography. These are all…yeah I still haven’t read all of these yet, but they’re all testimonies from the immigration. They call it the China *inaudible* In some of the–I guess the names and other papers….they gave the name of some of the witnesses, white people that he knew. So George Bartlet is one of them, and he turned out to be I think a chef later. And there was a saddle-maker named Brown. So they claimed that they know each other for, you know, decades. So anyways, that’s–
52:54 Yu: Did you, by any chance, ever take a picture of the mansion? The Crocker mansion that your great-grandfather might have worked in?
53:01 Hom: No, I haven’t. I understand he came–in Burlingame Golf and Country Club. He donated and–I don’t, I guess I could Google and find out where.
53:27 Yu: That’s good to know. It was a very large mansion, and it still stands.
53:31 Hom: Yeah. In fact, there is a golf course near where I live. In Burlingame. And I’m wondering if that’s the one. But I just drove by it.
53:49 Yu: I bet there’s a plaque.
53:56 Hom: I’ll try to find it. I drive around there all the time.
Gary Hom speaks to the impact of his great-grandfather on his family. He shows old family photographs with his great-grandfather and his grandfather’s families.
Kidnapping; Chinese bandits; Gong San; Gold Mountain; Hom Yi Yoon (great-grandfather); Genealogies; Menlo Park; Milpitas Ford plant; Hom Yip (grandfather); San Mateo; Chinese chefs; Immigration papers; Family photographs; George Bartlet; Crocker mansion; Burlingame Golf and Country Club
Kidnapping–China, Southeast–Cases; Chinese American authors; Chinese–Genealogy; Family–Pictorial works
Anthony Hom (Great-great-grandson of Hom Yi Yoon)
Interviewee: Anthony Hom (Great-Great-Grandson of Hom Yi Yoon)
Interviewer: Connie Young Yu and Barre Fong
Date: March 27, 2015
Location: Palo Alto, California
Length of the Interview: 5 minutes, 58 seconds
54:22 Yu: So Anthony, we are really delighted to be able to talk to you and to your father and wondered what your thoughts are about your connection to this history that was so central to the making of the U.S. and to the creation of Stanford.
54:36 Hom: Well, you know, I had always known about the history. I mean, I know my dad’s history. It was funny because when growing up I always knew he came from China, but he didn’t really tell us these stories about his great-grandfather until later. So all about the going back to China, going forward here, going back to China. And then, it didn’t always occur to me that there was a connection there, that I actually had a relative that was born in this country. And you know, I had seen different documentaries, I had seen the Belmore documentary, so it became more familiar to me. When I heard about the program, I think it was announced last year or so, that the railroad workers program was going to be here. If I didn’t do work with you, I probably would not have brought it up, that I had an ancestor that was a railroad worker. So it was just a chance meeting, that I would be talking to you about this.
55:43 Yu: And now that you make this connection, what are your thoughts?
55:49 Hom: It adds a little more dimension to my family. Something I didn’t expect really. It’s nice knowing that we have this kind of history and all the little stories that go in there that my dad has mentioned that really make our family history more interesting. We can see that we worked very hard. When we had a family that really stuck together and developed and, as you see today, I have a lot of cousins too, so we have a pretty big family.
Anthony Hom; Gary Hom (father); China; Belmore documentary; Chinese Railroad Workers’ Project (Stanford University); Chinese railroad workers
56:26 Yu: What about the link to the creation of the university?
56:31 Hom: It is rather ironic that I’m working here. My working here was just happenstance. I had no idea that I’d be working at Stanford. If you were to tell me when I left college that I’d end up working at Stanford, I–it’s not something that ever occurred to me. It just is through my life that I somehow, in the work I was doing, that suddenly I ended up at Stanford. Because it’s not related to what I was doing at all. When I left college, I was working at architecture.
57:02 Yu: Just realized we forgot to ask you to identify yourself. Can you just say your name.
57:09 Hom: Hi, I’m Anthony Hom. So anyways, so just by a series of things going on, I ended up finding myself working at Stanford. I’ve been here since 1996. And it’s very different work from what I had imagined I’d be doing. But the fact that I’ve been here for–I guess we’re looking at 18 years now–that I do like the work here at Stanford I’ve been doing. I do enjoy being at Stanford. I just love the environment. It’s quite different from the work I was doing when I was working in the private sector. And then I did know all about Stanford and the history of how this university was created. And all about the development of the railroad. So that was all familiar to me. I just couldn’t connect it to my family and that whole history together. Now I finally saw, coming to *inaudible*
58:16 Yu: Last thing is, when you were growing up, were you aware of the Exclusion Law and the laws against the Chinese.
58:22 Hom: I was not. I mean, when I was growing up, I mean–it’s just because at the time I had–I didn’t really think about the history of that time. Since I knew my dad came from China, I thought it didn’t really apply to me. So I didn’t really think that my family was part of that. And I didn’t really know it until later on, when I learned a little more during high school and college. And then watching more documentaries about finding out the history of the Exclusion Act. Plus I have some relatives that know a lot about the history of Chinese in San Francisco, and I’ve talked about the laws. I have an aunt that actually gave tours in San Francisco Chinatown, and she would talk about the history in Chinatown and about how things like–at one time Chinese men weren’t allowed to buy property, and they had to stay in Chinatown area and they could not leave that area. It was just slowly building away–I figured I learn more and more each time. As time went on.
59:31 Yu: Where did you go to high school?
59:34 Hom: I went to high school–I grew up in Foster City and I went to high school at San Mateo High. Then I went to college. I spent a year at University of Southern California, and I spent the rest of my undergraduate time at UC Davis.
59:49 Yu: Thank you so much. Thank you for connecting us with your relatives. Such a joy. *inaudible*
Anthony Hom describes his connection to Stanford University and its history, his learning about the Chinese Exclusion laws, and his high school education.
Stanford University; Chinese architects; Anthony Hom; Chinese Exclusion Act; Chinese documentaries; San Francisco Chinatown; Chinese property laws; Foster City; San Mateo High School; University of Southern California (USC); UC Davis
Chinese Americans–Employment–California; Chinese American architects; Housing, Discrimination in; Chinese American–History; San Francisco Chinatown (San Francisco, Calif.); Chinese American children–Education
All materials on these pages © Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford.