The Moy family collection, spanning from 1919 through the 2010s, richly documents multiple generations of the Goon – Moy family’s history. Goon Toy, a Portland-born US citizen, married Chin She on a visit home to Toisan in 1912 and returned to the United States to enlist in the armed forces during World War I. His document certifying his identity is featured below. With the help of war buddies, Goon petitioned for the right to have his wife and daughter Jeanne join him in the US at the height of Chinese Exclusion. The family settled in Fall River, MA, where Goon worked as a cook and eventual part-owner at the Eagle Restaurant. However, when tragedy struck one of their sons, the grief-stricken Chin She emigrated back to China with the children. Her husband stayed behind to work and support the now transnational family.
More than Four Generations in the United States
Years later, Jeanne married George Moy and returned with him to the United States. She is pictured below outside of her husband’s family-owned Mun Sing Laundry in Hell’s Kitchen in the 1930s. In New York City, the couple worked in restaurants for many years until longtime friends convinced them that moving to Florida would give them an opportunity to own their own restaurant rather than work for others. After several years of saving, they opened their very own Moy’s Chinese Garden in Hollywood, FL in 1946. The restaurant became a known hangout for members of the Rat Pack, among other notable entertainers, due to its proximity to the Diplomat Hotel where they performed. No doubt, Jeanne’s work at the Republic Machine Tool Corporation during World War II helped fund the restaurant. Wartime factory work marked the first time that many Chinese Americans could break through employment discrimination and find jobs outside ethnic enclaves. An excerpt of a June 1944 article included in a tribute made by Jeanne’s family for her 90th birthday, also featured below, recognized her as a “Champion War Worker” and proclaimed that she was the only Chinese woman in America who was a skilled machinist.
Jeanne and George’s son, William, grew up in New York City surrounded by his parents’ family and doing homework after school at the family’s laundry business. He is photographed later as an adult with his wife Peggy Eng at Georgia Tech. Before William headed off to college, his parents gifted him $200, the entirety of their savings, but he still had to do several odd jobs, including hotel bell hopping, to help defray college costs. The last photograph was taken in Miami, FL in the 1960s. The children are William and Peggy Eng Moy’s daughters, Jane and Jeanne Moy. They are the donors of this family collection to MOCA.
To learn more about additional generations and family members, peruse additional photographs and documents on MOCA’s PastPerfect database: https://bit.ly/3sfTBW3.