Connections with the Past with A Modern Tool, Facebook

Little could I foresee that when I posted this photograph in my previous post  showing men having a lunch break inside a large room with a pinup calendar on the wall  that someone (Raymond Chong) would respond by sending me the second photograph of 11 Chinese men seated at a make shift table having a meal together.

laundry workers lunch Balch museum 1980s

Sunday gathering of lonely bachelors on Gold Mountain Santa Barbara

I posted it on a Facebook page that has many Chinese contacts to see what types of guesses people might make about the story behind  the photograph. Little did I expect someone (Kelvin Han Yee) to immediately reply and correctly describe the scene as a gathering of bachelor laundrymen in the area surrounding Santa Barbara at a centrally located laundry on a Sunday. (It was a common practice all over the country for laundrymen to congregate in some central site on a Sunday when their laundries were closed before returning to their own towns where each labored long hours the rest of the week in their own laundry.)

An even bigger surprise was learning from Kelvin that he had a copy of the same photograph (with different cropping) that his father owned, which he sent to me, as shown below.

kelvins copy sun tong laudnry gp

This is a rare and poignant photograph that vividly captured a rare moment of companionship with fellow Chinese for these men, many who were the only Chinese in the towns where their laundries were located.  On these occasions they got to renew acquaintances, talk about their homeland, eat, maybe smoke opium, and sometimes gamble, which led to problems with the law from time to time.

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