Lewis Griswold

May 31, 2014

Griswold: DAR to honor former Chinese School in Hanford

The Daughters of the American Revolution this week will place a historical marker on the Chinese School in Hanford, established in 1922.

The plaque, to be presented at 2 p.m. Saturday, states: Center for Teaching Chinese Literature, Written Language, History, Geography and Social Studies.

After public school let out, children of Chinese families would go to the building on Visalia Street to learn Chinese language and history.

Stanford Lee of Fresno attended in the 1930s and early 40s.

"I'm grateful I learned some of the culture," he said.

Attendance was voluntary but "everybody went to Chinese School," said Frances Do Quon of Santa Clara, who attended from first through eighth grade in the '30s and '40s.

"They taught us to read and write, and the history of China," she said. "We celebrated some of the holidays," including Oct. 10, the date of an uprising that led to the creation of the Republic of China.

They would go to the school each weekday and Saturday, when they'd clean the building, she said.

"It was fun, it was a great sense of community," she said.

Teachers came from San Francisco.

Classes were held in the main room on the first floor, although in the heat of summer everyone would go to the basement where it was cooler, she said.

Sylvia Sue Lum of Fresno said she had to attend because her father, an herbalist at Y.T. Sue Herb Co., was also the school's principal.

"Even in the summer, I'd have to study," she said.

The school closed in the 1950s or early 1960s, as the Chinese community dwindled.

But the building still stands and the Chinese characters on the front are still there.

Since 1964, it has served as the home of local theater group Kings Players at the Temple Theater.

California DAR State Regent Debra Parent Jamison of Fresno, who grew up in Lemoore and spent a lot of time with friends in Hanford and China Alley -- the center of Hanford's Chinese community -- proposed to the national DAR that the state organization recognize the Chinese community in Hanford.

The national organization requested documentation, so the Taoist Temple Preservation Society in Hanford provided information compiled by local historian and Preservation Society member Martha Bentley.

"We're honored that they considered us for their recognition," said Preservation Society member Camille Wing.

BRIDGE NAMED: The Cross Creek bridge on Highway 99 in Tulare County has been officially designated as the CHP Officer Dean Esquibel Memorial Bridge.

Esquibel, 23, died in the line of duty Aug. 21, 1985, as the result of a traffic collision. Esquibel was engaged in a high-speed chase, according to news accounts.

He grew up in Reedley, went to Orosi High, College of the Sequoias and the CHP Academy, and had served on the Orange Cove and Dinuba police departments.

A dedication honoring Esquibel and his family was held Friday at the Hanford CHP office.

GIANT FOREST: The mountain air near Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park will be smoky through Tuesday because of a prescribed burn of 146 acres scheduled today, the National Park Service said.

The Giant Forest museum will stay open and the Sequoia Shuttle will operate, but some trails will be closed.

The Bear Hill burn will reduce fuel on the forest floor and create conditions that allow Giant Sequoia seedlings to establish, the park service said.

The last Bear Hill prescribed burn took place in 2001. Sequoia National Park has been doing prescribed burns in the area for several years.

If you go

What: Placing of historical marker at Chinese School

Where: 514 Visalia St., Hanford

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

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About Lewis Griswold

Lew Griswold


A 29-year resident of Visalia, Lewis Griswold is thoroughly in touch with his community. His South Valley columns shed light on the quirky and quaint, the light-hearted and the heart-rending. Contact him with your ideas. Phone: (559) 441-6104. Twitter: @fb_lewgriswold. Email: lgriswold@fresnobee.com

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