Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The First Chinese Restaurants Outside Boston (Part 3--Springfield)

Where were these first Chinese restaurants located? When did they first open? Did they have difficulties in the cities and towns where they were situated? What are their stories?

I've previously written a five-part series, The First Restaurants In Boston's Chinatownand I'm now expanding my coverage to include the rest of Massachusetts. This is a work in progress, and I'll be adding additional cities and towns in the future parts of this new series. The first article dealt with Cambridge and Fitchburg, and the second article dealt with Pittsfield and Malden. This third article now address the city of Springfield.


Springfield was one of the first cities in Massachusetts where Chinese arrived in the 1840s, primarily fueled by the desire for education. The story behind all of this began earlier, in 1810, in Hartford, Connecticut. According to A Maker of the New Orient (1902), by William Elliot Griffin, the Reverend Samuel Robbins Brown was born June 16, 1810 in Hartford, Connecticut and in 1818, the family moved to Monson, Massachusetts, a relatively short distance from Springfield. Samuel attended the Monson academy, which prepared students for college, and he was part of the Yale college class of 1832 (Yale wouldn't be referred to as a university until 1887)

Samuel became a missionary, and would later spend time in China and Japan. One of his primary passions became education, and he spent a number of years teaching students in China. In 1847, Samuels returned to the Springfield region, and brought three Chinese boys, 12 to 15 years old, with him, named Wong Shing, Yung Wing, and Wong Fun (also known as Wong Afeen). These were the first Chinese boys allowed to study abroad. These three boys attended the Monson academy, living with Samuel's family. The Springfield Republican, August 12, 1847, noted that all three did well in the school, similar to other student of a similar age.

The Springfield Republican, December 15, 1866, indicated that Wong Shing remained in Massachusetts for another two years, and then moved back to China where he initially worked as editor and translator at the China Mail, and later started working at a school in Shanghai. Wong Fun went to Edinburgh university, in accordance with the wishes of his patron, Mr. Shortrede, a native of Scotland. Wong entered into the medical department, graduated in 1855, and has been working as a physician. Yung Wing attended Yale college, and his connections to the U.S. would continued in the future.

The Boston Investigator, May 19, 1852 mentioned that “At the annual exhibition of the junior class at Yale College last month, the highest prize for English composition was awarded to Yung Wing, a native Chinese.” It was obvious that Yung was doing very well at Yale, especially for someone who wasn't a native English speaker. Then, the Springfield Republican, September 30, 1854, noted that Yung had just graduated from Yale college with the highest honors. He was probably the first Chinese student to graduate from an American college. Yung decided to visit China for a time, being issued a passport from the State department.

Yung returned to Springfield in the summer of 1864. The Lowell Daily Citizen & News, July 21, 1864, reported that Yung, who now had the Chinese rank of Mandarin, had returned to Springfield, living as a guest of Dr. McLean. Yung also had a commission from China to inspect & purchase machinery of various kinds to introduce China to modern Western improvements. Yung may have returned to America bringing his nephew, Yung Sum Tow, as it was mentioned in the  Springfield Republican, December 15, 1866, that Yung Sum Tow was currently enrolled at the Monson academy.

Yung returned to China, but made plans to return to America, this time bringing a number of other Chinese students with him. The Congregationalist, November 16, 1871, reported that China was willing to send 120 students to America for education, and had appropriated about $1,500,000 for the cost of this endeavor. Yung Wing would lead the first group of 30 Chinese students, and 30 more would follow each year for the subsequent three years. The Springfield Republican, April 24, 1872, stated that the first group of 30 students would leave China in the early summer. The next 30 students would then be brought by Wong Shing, one of the three original Chinese students to attend Monson academy.

The first group of students arrived! The Springfield Republican, September 16, 1872, reported that the first 30 Chinese arrived in San Francisco three days before, noting that the average age of the boys was 12. Once they arrived in Massachusetts, they would be scattered to a number of homes in New England, from New Haven Connecticut to Brattleboro, Vermont. It was later noted the students arrived in Springfield on September 22. 

The Congregationalist, August 7, 1873, stated that the second group of 30 Chinese students had recently arrived in Springfield. Some more details were provided about the education program too. After their schooling was complete, the students had to return to China to serve the government. However, they could remain in the U.S., completing their education, for up to 15 years. They were expected to not only attend high school, but also to attend college and possibly even graduate school.

Yung Wing ties to American continued to grow. The Springfield Republican, February 26, 1875, provided the good news that Yung had gotten married to Mary L. Kellogg, a white woman, in Connecticut. Unfortunately, eleven years later, tragedy struck. The Boston Herald, May 30, 1886, reported that Mary, who was only 35 years old, died of consumption at their home in Hartford, Connecticut. They did have two sons, who know Yung had to raise on his own.

Soon after his marriage, Yung had applied to become a citizen of the U.S. The Springfield Republican, April 1, 1875, mentioned that Yung had recently been naturalized, and might have been the first Chinese to become naturalized. A later issue, April 10, though indicated that Choy Awah, of Washington, was actually the first Chinese naturalized as a citizen last November. Yung also became a registered voter in Hartford.

The Springfield Republican, November 29, 1875, reported that the final group of 30 Chinese students should arrive in Springfield tomorrow, and will be met by Yung Wing. A few months later, Yung Wing, and Chin Lan Pin, were made ambassadors to the U.S., Peru and Cuba, and next fall would take up residence in Washington. Twenty years later, the Boston Herald, May 24, 1895, stated that Yung Wing was returning to China, answering a summons from the government.

At some point, Yung returned to American, settling back in Hartford. The Boston Herald, February 28, 1909, mentioned that Yung visited Yale to celebrate the 55th anniversary of his graduating class, of which only 25 people were still alive. A few years later, the Springfield Republican, April 22, 1912, sadly reported that Yung Wing, at age 84, had died at his home in Hartford. What a remarkable man, who led a remarkable life.

By 1886, there were a small number of Chinese, besides students, living in Springfield. The Springfield Republican, March 28, 1886, provided a glimpse into that Chinese community, noting a recent business dispute between two Chinese that was being handled under an "unwritten Chinese code." There had been a prior Chinese lawsuit in Springfield, over a year ago, but it had been handled by an arbitration before a Christian minister. This lawsuit though was being held before an unofficial Chinese court, a legal system used by Chinese in other cities and towns as well.

The suit revolved around Charles & Co., a Chinese laundry owned by Tung Al. Last summer, Gee Jee, one of Tung's employees, had attempted to buy into partnership with Tung, agreeing to pay on the installment plan over the course of three months. However, Gee was six months late in making his payments, though that didn't play a part in this suit. Instead, Gee made a mistake on a customer's order and Tung chastised him for it. This ended up in a physical fight, and afterward, Gee wanted Tung arrested for assault.

In the end, both parties agree to have the matter decided by the Chinese court. Usually, when this option was chosen, you would apply to Moon Fee, a Chinese magistrate in New York, who would then send a deputy to resolve the matter. However, Moon was in China at the moment, so two other judges, with the consent of Tung and Gee (as well as at their expensive), came to Springfield. The judges included Buck Sing of New York and Chin Tan at Southbridge. Though Buck was tending to side with Gee, Chin was more persuasive and the judges finally decided the Tung won the suit.

More interesting details on the Chinese community in Springfield was provided in the Springfield Republican, October 1, 1893. It noted that there were only about 25 Chinese in the city, employed in 12 laundries. The article was very positive about the Chinese, stating “The Chinese as seen in the East are as a class law-abiding and inoffensive. Very seldom is one arrested or complained of for crime, and then it is as likely as not that he is more sinned against than sinning.” A bit tongue in cheek, the article stated the main problem with the Chinese was the inflexibility of the Chinese laundry rule, that without a ticket, you couldn't get your clothes. There was also a mention that the two two best known interpreters in the city were Quong Ung, of 41 Main Street and Bing Gee, located at the corner of Water and Bridge Streets.

A Chinese Sunday School was also started 9 years ago by Mrs. A.S. McClean, which was to help the Chinese learn English and to provide them some religious instruction. The school met every Sunday afternoon at the YMCA, and the average attendance since it opened was 15 people, though last Sunday there were 23 attendees. During the past nine years, the school has taught about 175 Chinese, including some from surrounding communities. Based on the attendance figures, it is apparent that most of the Chinese in Springfield attended the school.

The first Chinese restaurant in Springfield wouldn't appear until around 1901. The Springfield Republican, April 18, 1901, noted that there was a Chinese restaurant at the corner of Main and State streets, though it didn't identify the restaurant by name. Later newspaper sources would indicate that this first spot was the Canton, owned by Woy Ying.

Another Chinese restaurant would open two years later. The Springfield Republican, May 21, 1903, noted that a Chinese restaurant, located at 28 Fort Street, would open in two days. The owner was Jue Lee, noted to be a friend of Jue Fun, the laundryman, both seen as "progressive" Chinese. Interestingly, the menu only contained Chinese dishes, and didn't have any American dishes.

In some unfortunate news, the Springfield Republican, July 30, 1903, reported that two black men, Walter Madison and Edward Grant, were tried in the police court yesterday for assault on Joe Fun and Jue Lee, the owners of the new Chinese restaurant on Fort Street. This is the only article to mention that Jue Lee was an owner, and this appears to be a mistake. While Joe and Jue were walking along Worthington Street, they were attacked by Walter and Edward. The two men were found guilty and fined $10 for the assault.

A third Chinese restaurant? The North Adams Transcript, August 15, 1906 stated that Ong Yon Ben, the owner of a Chinese laundry on Center Street in North Adams, who had been a resident for   15 years, had sold his laundry to Tom How of Springfield. Ong was supposedly going to move to Springfield and start a Chinese restaurant. However, it doesn't appear he ever did start a restaurant, or at least, there was no documentation in the newspapers that he ever did so.

The Springfield Republican, August 21, 1906, reported that Jue Fun, the owner of a Chinese restaurant on Worthington Street was recently arrested for using profane language in the presence of a police officer. I'll note that this article places the restaurant on Worthington rather than Fort Street. Another newspaper during this period states the same thing. These are parallel streets, close together, so the actual address might have been a bit fluid.

In this incident, at about 10:30pm on a Sunday night, Jue was speaking to a woman in an alleyway to the rear of his restaurant when a police advised the woman to go home. Fun told the officer that he was interfering with his personal rights, and his language got heated. The officer then arrested him for and it was noted that his trial would be continued until next Monday. I wasn't able to find the resolution to this matter, though even if found guilty, Jue would have likely received only a small fine.

More trouble for Jue. The Boston Herald, September 5, 1906, reported that Jue Fun had refused to serve food to several black people at his restaurant. Five lawsuits, battling the discrimination, were then brought against him in superior court, the suits aggregating for $2200. Unfortunately, the resolution of these lawsuit was proven elusive.

The Springfield Republican, October 20, 1909, noted that James Moriarty was fined $5 in police court for maliciously breaking glass in the Chinese restaurant on Fort Street.

Another intriguing article, with insufficient details. The Springfield Union, March 14, 1911, mentioned that a year or two ago, the license commissioners of Springfield took action against a Chinese restaurant. They revoked its common victuallers license on grounds that it was a menace to the morals of the community, and this ended up putting them out of business. However, the identity of the restaurant was not provided.

A brief notice in the Springfield Daily News, May 17, 1911, stated that the Building Department granted a permit to George Whitney to construct an addition to the Chinese restaurant building at 103 Worthington Street. Again, the name of the restaurant was not provided.

Then, the Springfield Daily News, October 26, 1911, stated that 2 watches and $32 in cash were stolen from Ying Woy’s Chinese restaurant on Worthington Street. No name for the restaurant was provided, though the owner's name was given. Was this the restaurant that had a recent addition?

An assault on a waiter. The Springfield Daily News, December 28, 1911, reported that a waiter at the Chinese restaurant on State Street was assaulted by a black man, Edward Williams, who was with a friend, Zara Freeman. The waiter was said to still be bedridden as a result of the injuries. Zara had already been to court and fined $5, while the matter for Edward had been continued. The Springfield Daily News, January 4, 1912, provided more details, noting that Williams was fined $15. The victim was Chin Way, who instead of being a waiter was actually the president of the Chinese restaurant on West State Street. In the assault, he had sustained a crippled foot, a cut arm, and multiple bruises.

A Chinese restaurant is gone! The Springfield Daily News, August 24, 1912, stated that a permit had been granted to demolish a wooden building at 103-105 Worthington Street, which is currently used by a Chinese restaurant. The Springfield Republican, August 25, 1912, added that the Bijou amusement company got the permit to raze a building with a Chinese restaurant and bowling alley to make room for an enlarged Bijou theater. The name of the restaurant wasn't provided.

The first time a Chinese restaurant is named! The Springfield Republican, December 29, 1912, ran an article discussing how the 100 or so Chinese living in Springfield would celebrate New Year’s Day. Rather than celebrate the usual Chinese New Year, the Chinese in the city were choosing to celebrate the Western New Year's Day holiday. The article also mentioned that the Chinese were going to soon form a club, a public association for the Chinese community. The lead person pushing for this club was Charles Young, who owns the Shanghai Restaurant at 28 Fort Street. This is the same location as the restaurant that was opened by Jue Lee in 1903. Did Lee sell the restaurant to Young at some point?

Opium raids. The Springfield Union, February 3, 1913, reported that for the second time within the last few months, the police raided a Chinese opium joint. The previous raid, at a place on Liberty Street, had led to the arrest of 11 Chinese. This time, the police raided a Chinese laundry at 44 Sanford Street, arresting 4 Chinese and seizing a large quantity of opium, pipes, lamps, and other items. One of the defendants was Ching Fok, who owns a Chinese restaurant on lower State street, bailed out everyone for $50 each.

Welcome to the new Chinese club. The Springfield Union, March 8, 1913, described the new club which would soon open. The Chinese Republic association’s clubrooms would be opened at 264 Main Street. Charles Young, was elected the president for all his hard work in helping to establish the association. It was then noted that Charles had been born in San Francisco, but when he was 6 months old, his parents returned to China. When he was 14 years old, Charles decided to return to America and first went to New York, living there until 1908, when he came to Springfield. He then  opened a Chinese restaurant on Fort Street. Charles is now 27 years old, so he started the restaurant when he was only 22 years old.

Charles stated the goal of the new association was twofold, first to discourage vice like opium and gambling and second, to enlighten the Chinese about American ideas and institutions. The article also noted that there were about 200 Chinese living in Hampden County and Northern Connecticut, and all of them would be served by the new association. As a follow-up, the Springfield Union, March 17, 1913, mentioned that over 150 Chinese gathered at the new association yesterday at its formal opening. They also elected as Vice President, Woy Ying, the proprietor of a Chinese restaurant on Worthington Street. I really wish these newspapers would give the names of these restaurants.

Briefly, the Springfield Union, August 13, 1913, and mentioned there was a Chinese restaurant at 108 State Street. In the Springfield Republican, August 18, 1913, and Springfield Union, August 18, 1913, a couple more details were provided. Fred Chin is supposed to be the owner of the restaurant at 108 State Street, and he was assaulted at his restaurant by Edward Lawyer. Edward ate at the restaurant and then refused to pay. An argument ensued and Edward then punched Chin in the face. The police later found Edward hiding under a bed in a boarding house, and he admitted to the assault. Chin needed 2 stitches for an injury to his nose.

A couple months later, the Springfield Union, October 11, 1913, stated that Fred Chin had sold his interest in the firm of Wey Yen Low Co. Chinese Restaurant, at 108 State Street, and severed his connections to it. The new manager was noted as being Chin Wey.

The Springfield Daily News, October 21, 1913, stated that the alterations to 218 Worthington Street were nearly complete and that a new Chinese-American restaurant would open there, The Asia. The Springfield Daily News, November 22, 1913, then posted an advertisement for the grand opening of The Asia, a Chinese-American café and restaurant, which is owned by Tom Ming and Tom Monkip.  It also appears that this restaurant is part of a restaurant group located in several different states. A brief review was provided in the Springfield Daily News, November 26, 1913, noting The Asia, which was open from 6am to Midnight, had delicious food, excellent service and moderate prices.

Another opium raid. The Springfield Union, November 28, 1913, reported on what was thought to be maybe the biggest opoim raid in Springfield history.  The police raided 22 and 24 Liberty Street,  arresting 5 Chinese laundrymen, who all pled guilty, and were given a total fine of $220. Chin Joe, the owner of 22 Liberty, was fined $160 for keeping a house where opium was illegally. Charles Wing, Charles Young, Charles Tom. High Hing, George Sam, and Sam Sam were fined $20 each for being present in a place where opium was kept. This was the third time within a year that 22 Liberty had been raided, though only the first raid for 24 Liberty. In total, from these two raids, the police seized about six pounds of drugs and assorted paraphernalia. It's important to note that the Charles Young who was arrested is not the same Charles as the one who own the Shanghai Restaurant.

More details on Charles Young, restaurant owner. The Springfield Daily News, July 2, 1914, mentioned that Charles Young announced his marriage of a month ago to Jessie Cheng, the daughter of a New York Chinese merchant. Their romance spread over the last 10 years, and their marriage had been deferred until Jessie completed her education at the Washington Irving High School in New York City last month. They will live in Springfield. The Springfield Union, July 2, 1914, also mentioned that Charles came to the city 6 years ago, in 1908, and worked at Shanghai for 2 years before then buying the restaurant.

A new Chinese spot! The Springfield Daily News, July 16, 1914, published an ad for The New Shanghai, which opened that day at 156-158 Bridge Street. This restaurant was a branch of the Shanghai restaurant at 28 Fort Street, owned by Charles Young. The new spot offered an American or Chinese plan a la carte as well as a special noonday lunch for 35 cents.

Fire at this new spot! Only 8 days after opening, the Springfield Union, July 24, 1914, reported that a fire started in the restaurant due to an overheated cooking stove in the rear of the restaurant. Fortunately, the fire didn't spread far and the property damage was about $1000.

A gambling raid rather than another opium one. The Springfield Daily News, November 9, 1914, stated that 25 Chinese had been arrested the prior evening in a raid on a gaming establishment conducted by Chin Met at 133 Main Street. They were apparently running a lottery and Chinese from surrounding cities, Connecticut and New York were implicated. All of the defendants were 40+ years old, and they all pled guilty. Chin Met was fined $100 and all of the others were fined $10 each.

The Springfield Daily News, December 26, 1914 printed an ad for The Asia, noting their Special New Year Dinner with Turkey for 50 cents.

Plenty of details about the Chinese community in Springfield were discussed in the Springfield Republican, June 14, 1915. The article noted that the next day, honorary commissioners from China were coming to Springfield to explore the community. It was noted by the writer that “we have a considerable colony of their countrymen among us and that we know surprisingly little of what they are like.” They were seen mainly as cooks and laundrymen, despite being in Springfield for over 30 years. They never congregated in one specific neighborhood, though some of their initial businesses, laundries, were located in the central business district.

Presently, there were over 200 Chinese in Springfield, with about 8 Chinese restaurants, and Charles Young and Ying Moy were the best known restaurant owners. There were Chinese grocery and variety stores here too, including the Chong Kee company at 107 1/2 Main Street and Sun Wah Lung at 26 Liberty Street. These grocery stores were also a kind of social club, and usually the first place a new person visited when they come to the city and were unemployed. Sometimes they could get even room and board there for free until they got a job.

It was also noted that also almost every one of their businesses was a success so it was easy for them to get credit at local bank. They were tireless workers whose only form of recreation was the club life, where they met to chat about matters of mutual interest. There was a local Chinese republican club, with about 30 members.

The terrible tragedy of three murdered Chinese. The Springfield Daily News, September 13, 1915, somberly reported on the murder of three Chinese, two in Springfield and one in Greenfield. The alleged killer was Bow Yeong (pictured above), aka Ng Hok Yeong and aka Ng Hok Leung. Bow was arrested and would be arraigned on the 17th, while a grand jury indictment was sought. Bow told the police that he was angry as the other Chinese did not help him financially in paying the costs of his case before the U.S. court in which he was a defendant on charges of being illegally in the country. Charles Young, the owner of the Shanghai Restaurant, paid the bond for Bow, and informed the deportation commissioner that Bow thought he would be deported, which is part of the reason for the killings.

Bow's first victim was Ong Ten of Greenfield, who was Bow's business partner.  Ong was sleeping at his laundry when it was thought Bow entered the laundry and killed Ong with a knife. However, as there were no witnesses to this murder, it was believed that the case might not go forward. After killing Ong, Bow went to the Peking Restaurant, on Hampden Street, walked into the dining room where Wu Shee Chong (a part owner of the restaurant) was standing, and shot him twice in the chest. Then, Bow left and went to the Canton Restaurant on Worthington Street. and found Ng Hong (the son of the owner of the restaurant, Wing Sing) sitting at the cashier’s desk. Bow shot three times, hitting Ng twice. Afterward, Bow went back outside where he was confronted by a police officer. Bow pointed his gun at him, but never fired and was subsequently arrested.

Bow, who was 34 years old, was a native of China and came to America about 8 years ago on a merchant’s certificate. About a week before, Bow withdrew all of his savings, $1040, and sent it by money order to Quong Woh of San Francisco. And several weeks ago, he purchased a .32 revolver, which he used for two of the murders. Interestingly, the judge in the deportation case was ready to dismiss the charges against Bow.

The Springfield Union, December 11, 1915, published an ad for another new Chinese restaurant, the   Oriental Café, located at 223 Main Street. Another ad in the Springfield Union, January 27, 1916, mentioned that the restaurant served Chinese and American cuisine, had a Special Dinner Daily for 35 cents, and offered takeout.

An assault at the Canton. The Springfield Daily News, April 26, 1916 discussed some trouble at the Canton Restaurant on Worthington St, resulting from a fight on the night of March 25, 1914. Max Adelson brought a civil suit for assault against Woy King, the owner, seeking $3000 for a gash on the back of his head received during fight with 4-5 waiter. Adelson stated that one of the waiters hit him in the head with a catsup bottle. However, the  defendant claimed the plaintiff had been intoxicated and “raising a roughhouse.” He attacked a waiter, and during the fight, Adelson fell upon a table and cut his head on the marble corner. The Springfield Union, April 27, 1916, noted that the jury found for the defendant.

Another gambling raid. The Springfield Republican, October 31, 1916, reported that 25 Chinese had been arrested for violating the gambling law. Charles Young, of 132 Main Street (and not the restaurant owner), was fined $100 for maintaining a gaming house, while 6 others were fined $10 each and 18 more were only fined $5 each.

A backlash against Chinese restaurants. The Springfield Republican, May 30, 1917, reported that there would be a public hearing to be held to all interested in the “stand of the cook’s and waiters’ union against the granting of licenses to proprietors of Chinese restaurants.” The union supporters and the Chinese restaurant keepers would all have an opportunity to speak before the licensing commission. The union wanted to prevent any further Chinese restaurants from opening in Springfield.

In a follow-up, the Springfield Republican, June 2, 1917, noted that Quin Yue of Boston had sought to open a new Chinese restaurant on Bridge Street while Woy Ying, owner of the Canton Restaurant, wanted a license to open another new restaurant on Fort Street. The union supporters stated that “it was virtually impossible for American restaurants to compete successfully with Chinese restaurants because of the low-paid help which the Chinese employ.” They also alleged that every new Chinese restaurant drove an American restaurant out of business. It was also mentioned that Way Ying had filed an application for the first Chinese restaurant in Springfield some 15 years ago. The commission didn’t make a decision at that time.

Ultimately, and fortunately, the efforts to prevent the Chinese from opening new restaurants failed.

The first of the new restaurants opened a few months later. The Springfield Republican, September 2, 1917, published a large advertisement for the new Canton Café, which would open on Thursday, located at located at 16-18 Fort Street. It was owned by Woy Ying, who also owned the Canton Restaurant at  81-83 Worthington Street. Woy Ying gave Springfield its first Chinese restaurant and for past 20 years has built an excellent reputation. The new cafe, serving Chinese and American dishes, would have 2 large dining rooms with a capacity of 170 people. Their Fried Chicken was mentioned as “especially worthy."

The Springfield Republican, April 10, 1918, published an ad for Wey Yen Low, located at 108 State Street, which was under new management. It was an American and Chinese restaurant, which served a regular dinner for 35 cents.

In other restaurant news, the Springfield Republican, November 7, 1918, noted that Woy Ying,  who owned the Canton, had bought a property between Worthington Street and Symonds Avenue, plans to move the Canton restaurant to this location once he built a new building.

The Springfield Daily News, May 26, 1919, announced the opening of the new Canton Restaurant, at 111 Worthington Street, said to be the "finest and largest Chinese restaurant in the city." Woy Ying kept expanding his restaurants.

The Springfield Daily News, May 29, 1919, published an ad for Riverside Park, noting that you could have lunch or dinner at the Park restaurant, which was now under the control of Charles Young (who owned the Shanghai Restaurant), serving American and Chinese food. There would also be dancing in the pavilion and concerts by 104th Regiment Band.

The Milk Police strike! The Springfield Daily News, December 16, 1919, printed that 16 store-keepers, 3 restaurant owners, and 2 meat-packing companies had to go to court on food violations. The 3 restaurants were charged with selling milk that tested below the lawful standard. One of those restaurant owners was Ying Moy, of the Canton Restaurant, and he pled not guilty so the matter was continued for trial.

A Melee breaks out. The Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield), June 14, 1920, reported that there was a fight inside the new Canton Chinese restaurant the previous night. Three men allegedly started the fight, though the reasons are currently unknown, and it led to a melee as the 200 guests inside tried to exit the restaurant, while there were about 1000 spectators outside who were trying to get in.

Another new Chinese restaurant. The Springfield Daily News, February 15, 1921, published a large ad for the new Mandarin Restaurant, located at 218 Worthington Street. It was an American and Chinese restaurant, and the ad presented a partial menu too. For example, you could find a Noon Luncheon for 75 cents, an Evening Dinner for $1.50, and a Special Evening Menu for $1.50. Some of the many items included: Blue Point Oysters; Fried Scallops, Roast California Chicken, Filet Mignon, Chicken Chow Mein with Almonds, and Fried Boneless Chicken with Pineapple Sauce;. It was also mentioned that the Mandarin Orchestra would play for dancing every evening from 10pm-Midnight.

And changes at another Chinese restaurant. The Springfield Republican, August 2, 1921, first reported that the Shanghai Restaurant had closed as it owners, Charlie Young, had left Springfield to become an insurance agent in New York. The article also alleged that Young was the first Chinese to own a restaurant in Springfield and the first Chinese to own an automobile as well. However, we already know Woy Ying was the first to open a Chinese restaurant, and that when Young arrived in Springfield, there were at least two Chinese restaurant already operating.

The Springfield Daily News, August 3, 1921, then mentioned that the Shanghai Restaurant hadn't actually closed but was merely under new ownership and management. It was now owned by the Shanghai Restaurant Company, which was recently formed by 15 Chinese from Springfield, Boston, and New York. The new manager was Harry S. Chong, and they had hired several New York Chinese chefs to create new Chinese dishes for the menu.

There was then a new ad for the Shanghai in the Springfield Daily News, September 14, 1921. The Shanghai Restaurant was open from 7am to midnight, and offered a Noonday Luncheon for 35 cents, a Special Chicken Dinner for 35 cents, Supper for 40 cents, and a Sunday dinner for 75 cents.

A drug raid that netted only gamblers. The Springfield Republican, March 6, 1922, reported that 28 Chinese were arrested for gambling in a raid at the cellar of 22 Liberty Street, which was owned by Charles Song. The vice squad was actually seeking drugs, which they didn't find, but found the Chinese gambling. Woy Ying, the restaurant owner, paid the bail of $1800 for all of the defendants.

The milk police strike again. The Springfield Republican, January 12, 1927, noted that Harry Chung of the Shanghai Restaurant and Ung Lang, the owner of the Canton restaurant at 111 Worthington Street, were brought into court for selling milk and cream below the standard quality. They pled guilty and paid fines of $10 each.

The Springfield Republican, January 15, 1929, noted the Gala Opening of the new Asia Restaurant, located at 1800 Main Street, and mentioned there was sufficient room for 1000 guests to dance and dine. The Springfield Republican, August 7, 1929, then noted that James Ling, who came to Springfield in January, was the secretary of The Asia Restaurant corporation, which operated a chain of Chinese restaurants. However, the restaurant only lasted about five years, as the Springfield Republican, September 22, 1934, stated the Asia Restaurant filed for bankruptcy.

Some history of the Chinese community was provided in the Springfield Republican, April 30, 1936. First, the article mentioned that there were two classes of Chinese in the city: the ordinary, working-class Chinese who lived there more or less permanently, and are usually in the laundry or restaurant business; and the students, who were there only temporarily. In Springfield, there were currently about 250 Chinese, most from the Canton province on the southern coast of China. About 50 work of the Chinese worked in the 30 laundries, and another 50 worked in the restaurant business. The rest of the article presented some history of the Chinese community, including information on the Chinese students that came to the area to go to school, most of which I previously discussed in this article.

The Springfield Union, October 17, 1962, provided some history of the Canton Restaurant, located at 111 Worthington Street, and noting that it had been around for 44 years. Woy Ying initially opened the Canton Café at 81 Worthington Street. Then, in 1918, Woy Ying opened the Canton Restaurant at 16-17 Fort Street. In 1919, it became known as the New Canton Restaurant, was sold to other interests and then closed in 1920. However, in 1919, Ying opened another Canton Restaurant, at 111 Worthington Street, and operated it until 1922, when it was sold to the Mong Sang Co. They then operated the restaurant until 1948, when it was purchased by Lam Ung, Wu Hong Kim, and Lee Wing, who renovated the place in 1955.

It was then noted in the Springfield Union, November 20, 1962, that there had been changes in corporate officers and management of the Canton restaurant. The new President was Foo Y. Lee of 109 Worthington Street. The former president, Ung Lam, had plans to open a new Chinese restaurant at 338 Bridge Street. The Canton would last for another thirteen years. The Springfield Union, March 25, 1975, noted that the Canton restaurant had announced that it would close on March 31, 1975. As a follow-up, the Springfield Union, March 26, 1975, noted that the owner alleged that a lack of parking and a drop off in number of people in downtown Springfield, had led to the closure. After over 55 years of operation, the Canton closed.

To Be Continued...


Joe C said...

A $0.50 supplement charge for turkey

Joe C said...

A $0.50 supplement charge for turkey??