Wah Young Co. Storefront

My father George K. Yee was brought to the U.S. in the 1920s as a young teenager by my grandfather Mi g Yee.  He returned to China to get married in the 1930s and again to Hong Kong in 1949 to meet my mother who had remained in Hong Kong after World War II because of the Chinese Exclusion Act which severely limited wives of Chinese in the U.S. to join their husband. He returned to Seattle in 1951 to join the Wah Young Company when I was only six months old.  The immigration papers were finally approved for my mother and I to come to Seattle in 1968.  Unfortunately, my mother had a sudden death one month before we were to come and I delayed joining my father in August 1969 for the first time since he left in 1951. This a true personal story of how the Chinese Exclusion Act negatively affected my family reunification. My father worked at Wah Young, a retail and wholesale grocery store with an over 80 years of history in Seattle, until he retired in the late 1980s.  He died in November 1991 at the age of 85.  As a college graduate, my father knew both English and Chinese well but like most Chinese in the U.S. of his generation, the grocery, restaurant and laundry business were the limited options he had in terms of employment opportunities. The location of Wah Young at 717-719 South King Street (and is now the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience).

Place(s): Seattle
Year: 1969

– Frederick Yee, C.A.C.A. Seattle Lodge

Relationship:  Im/migrant who arrived as a child Im/migrant who arrived as a child