San Joaquin County Historical Museum
11793 North Micke Grove Road
Lodi, California 95240
Phone: (209) 331-2055
Julie Blood, Collections and Exhibits Manager,
Robin Wood, Education and Visitor Services Manager, or
David Stuart, Executive Director (all at 331-2055)
Special Exhibition on Stockton Chinatown
Opens with Activities on January 29
Micke Grove Regional Park – “We asked people for a penny. When we had scraped together 10 cents, one of us would pay to get into the movies. Once inside, that kid would open the exit door of the theater for the rest of us to sneak in. I would find a couple and sit next to them, pretending to be their child. Sometimes we got caught; other times we didn’t.” Qloun Cho Low-Poon, 88, and her little brother “Chungie” Chung Cho Gong, 87, recounted tales like this to illustrate how they grew up as the youngest of nine children in a poor family in South Stockton during the 1930s and ‘40s. “Poor, but happy,” they said. Through tenacity and drive, they both ultimately graduated from UC Berkeley.
Beginning on Sunday, January 29, 2017, from 12-4 pm, visitors to the San Joaquin County Historical Museum in Micke Grove Park can go back in time and relive Stockton Chinatown when it was a colorful, bustling business district in the area now traversed by the Crosstown Freeway that links Highway 99 and Interstate 5. Washington Street: The Heart and Soul of Stockton Chinatown is a special exhibition that will continue at the museum through May 28, 2017. The exhibition is a collaborative effort between the museum and the Chinese Benevolent Association (CBA) of Stockton. Research has included a series of “Show ‘n’ Tell” sessions with members of the Greatest Generation and their descendants. They delved into their memories and dusted off storage boxes, painting a remarkable picture of a time and a culture in Stockton that is in danger of being forgotten.
Memories and artifacts from the bygone era will be preserved and shared, thanks to the efforts of Julie Blood, the museum’s Collections and Exhibit Manager, with the aid of museum docents (volunteer educators) and community members. Washington Street: The Heart and Soul of Stockton Chinatown will chronicle Sam Fow (Cantonese for “third city”) from the early 1900s through redevelopment in the 1970s.
The exhibition Opening Day on January 29 will begin at 12 noon. The museum will come alive with Chinese cultural activity stations, including a costume photo booth for cell phone pictures; local Chinese authors and cooks ready to answer your questions and sign their books; a market display of Chinese cooking ingredients; and chopstick training. Learn about Mah Jongg, Tai Chi, and the Chinese zodiac. The first 200 guests will be able to purchase a $5 Chinese plate luncheon. At 2:00 pm, the thunderous beat of the lion dance drums will beckon all visitors to the Erickson Building for the exhibit ribbon-cutting ceremony. After the opening ceremony, until museum closing at 4:00 pm, the exhibits may be viewed and tea and home-baked cookies enjoyed in the adjacent Tea Room.
The exhibit is auspicious for three reasons: (1) Chinese New Year (Year of the Rooster) begins the day prior to Opening Day; (2) The last Chinese exhibit at the museum, Golden Mountain, took place in 1981, also the Year of the Rooster; (3) The exhibit coincides with the museum’s 50th anniversary year and the beginning of the Chinese Benevolent Association’s Centennial Celebration.
The museum is located within Micke Grove Park at 11793 N. Micke Grove Road, Lodi, CA 95240. The entrance is near the corner of Armstrong and Micke Grove Roads. A parking fee of $6 per vehicle is charged at the park entry station, but the museum admission fees will be waived for the Opening Day.
The nonprofit San Joaquin County Historical Society operates the museum under an agreement with the County of San Joaquin. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Membership in the Historical Society may be purchased at the museum; a one-year membership includes waiver of the parking fee and museum admission fees, and allows visits to the popular Critter Corral petting zoo on spring and summer weekends. The Museum is fully accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. For more information see www.SanJoaquinHistory.org.
Janwyn Loy Funamura, museum trustee and docent, as well as immediate past president of Stockton CBA, has learned a thing or two working on this project. She found out from the family of Hong Gong, aka “John Kee”, that, using the pounds of bean sprouts delivered as a measuring stick, her father was an extremely successful businessman as co-owner of The Chopstick, Stockton’s first Chinese food take-out restaurant. Visit Washington Street: The Heart and Soul of Stockton Chinatown, and take a step back in time!