Friday, April 8, 2022

Leong Gor Yun’s Chinatown Inside Out

Barrows Mussey, 1936

The authors of the book were Yiu Kui Chu and Virginia Howell Mussey who used the pseudonym, Leong Gor Yun, which, translated in Cantonese, means two people. The publisher and book designer was Chu’s Haverford College schoolmate, June Barrows Mussey, the husband of Virginia. The dust jacket art was by Oscar Ogg who wrote Ogg in the lower left corner. He probably did the lettering, too. Creighton Peet was credited for many of the photographs.

The cloth color differed on some books.


Virginia Howell Mussey was born Virginia Tier Howell on February 3, 1910 in New York, New York. The birth information came from her Social Security Application at Her middle name was published in Something About the Author (1973). Her parents were William David Howell and Mary Augusta Mapes. 

The 1910 U.S. Federal Census recorded Mussey and her parents in the Bronx, New York, at 1441 Doris Street. Her father built houses. According to the 1915 New York state census, Mussey, her parents and two siblings resided at 1537 Overing Street in the Bronx. 

In the 1920 census, the family lived in Tarpon Springs, Florida at 310 Tarpon Avenue. Her father was a building contractor. The 1925 New York state census listed the family at South East Avenue in Poughkeepsie. The 1930 census said they were on Vassar Road in Poughkeepsie.

Mussey graduated from Vassar College in 1932. She married June Barrows Mussey on June 28, 1932. The couple were aboard the S.S. Europa when it departed Southampton, England and arrived in the port of New York on November 17, 1932. 

The Vassar Quarterly, February 1, 1933, said “Virginia Howell Mussey is running the Children’s Book Agency in New York.” The Vassar Quarterly, May 15, 1936, said “Virginia Howell Mussey and husband have their own publishing business, Loring & Mussey, Inc., at 55 Fifth Avenue, New York City.” 

Something About the Author, Contemporary Authors (1978) and The Writers Directory, 1980–1982 (1979) said Mussey with Y. K. Chu wrote, under the pseudonym Leong Gor Yun, Chinatown Inside Out. She also wrote the book’s foreword. 
By none of my own doing I was suddenly in the seat of the mighty as editor of The Chinese Journal. I knew nothing about running a newspaper, and less than nothing about the Chinese in America, who would read the paper. I had American ideas about the Chinese and Chinatown, and they, I soon learned, were as false as American ideas about Soviet Russia. 

On Monday morning I walked into the office of The Journal. As I approached the editorial office, the Jewish telephone girl stopped me with what appeared to be a Nazi salute. 

“Good morning,” she said. "Have some lickerish drobs; they’re very refreshingg [sic].” 

I had some, and they were refreshingg [sic]. But they also gave me time to take in the situation, and courage to face the eight grinning Chinese boys who were lined up in the office, waiting to greet me. Not one of them was over twenty-five, and not one looked as though he could tell a newspaper from a laundry ticket. They were polite. I in turn was polite, but I assumed an air of savoir-faire to cover my bewilderment. 

“Well,” I began, “have you got the New York papers, Mr. Lee?” 

“A’ he’, A’ he’l” 

“Good. Then let’s clip out all the Chinese and Japanese news, and you can translate it into Chinese.” 

“Yeh, yeh.” 

So we clipped for a good hour, and then I went back to the composing and press-room to see the real inside of a Chinese newspaper. It was cold, so the boys wore their jackets, though the exercise they got running up and down between the cases should have warmed them. I have always marvelled at the skill of type-setters, but I have never seen a more astonishing performance than these Chinese type-setters put on. They picked the characters out of unlabelled boxes as they ran, almost without looking. I watched, wondering what they could be setting, until Mr. Lee told me a cable had arrived from China with the important news. 

“Good,” I said. “Do you get a cable every day?”

“We get cab’e eve’y day, but on’y Mr. Chu know how to make sense.” 

That was my signal to take the cable to the hospital. The paper had to have front-page news and a feature article. I was also instructed to ask Mr. Chu what General the New York Times was talking about in its front-page article on the Chinese civil war. The cable he translated, but he did not know who or what The Times was talking about. The boys would have to look up the General’s name in a Yearbook. 

For the first time in my life I heard an argument in Chinese. Italians in a dispute sound volcanic; Germans, dogmatic; the Irish, sarcastic; the English, frigid; but only the Chinese sound like a bird-store in distress. They chirped and sang as they opened one book after another, searching in vain for the famous General. 

What was said about the General I never knew, but I do know that as I sat in the subway after the day’s work, reading the English dateline of the paper—“PublishedDailyExceptSunday&Certain HolidaysorDayFollowingSuchHolidaysByTheChinese Journal Inc.”—I was the cynosure of all eyes. And I was still chortling over Mr. Lee’s compliment: “You know,” he had whispered to me, “I neva think such a woma’ run up an’ dow’ for a frien’!”. 

After a week Mr. Chu was ready to take back his job. He came to see me, and look over the seven papers he had not edited. For a while he was quiet, reading. Then without warning he laughed, and I knew that I had failed as an editor. 

“It’s nothing. One of Dr. Lin Yutang’s admirers and imitators wrote a funny article. The English he uses wanted editing.” I looked. There were four lines: 

[newspaper clipping in Chinese]

There was silence again, and more reading. I took heart, but not for long. 

“This time the boys got one past you. They didn't have enough news, so they filled up the paper by printing two sample laundry tickets!” 

[newspaper clipping of laundry ticket stub]

The paper, incidentally, lost 500 circulation during my regency.

This was my introduction to Chinatown, and to the Chinese in America; and a logical introduction for this book, the necessity for which would otherwise never have been realized—by me at least. 

After this I asked Mr. Chu who he thought could write for Americans about the Chinese in America. He answered, after considering possible candidates, “Leong Gor Yun.” 

I am glad to see that Mr. Leong has in this book not only introduced us to Chinatown, but turned it inside out.
In the late 1930s Mussey divorced her first husband and married William H. Soskin on April 9, 1941. When he died, she married James W. Ellison on April 11, 1955. They divorced and she married Maurice J. Reis on February 25, 1976, according to the Connecticut Marriage Index at 

Mussey (Virginia H. Reis) passed away on April 18, 2000 in Stamford, Connecticut, according to the Connecticut Death Index at

* * * * * 

Yiu Kui Chu was born around February 1906, in Canton, China, according to a passenger list at He was aboard the S. S. Korea Maru when it arrived in San Francisco, California on September 29, 1927. He was a student with a visa obtained in Tienstin, China on August 9, 1927. Chu named his friend, S. Howard Jee, who lived in Tienstin. (Jee was an architect who studied at the University of Michigan.) Also named was Chu’s father’s friend, Chu Lop Bow, of San Francisco, who was his guardian. Chu’s final destination was Haverford, Pennsylvania. 

Chu attended Haverford College. He was listed in the Haverford College Directory 1927–1928 and Haverford College Catalogue 1927–1928



Chu was profiled in the Haverford News, October 31, 1927.
Chinese Finds Student Attitude at Haverford Similar to That in China

Yiu Kui Chu, ’31 Compares Undergraduates’ Interests With Those in Far Eastern Colleges

Although he finds Haverford undergraduates not much different in their attitude toward work from those in the Chinese college which he attended, You Kui Chu, of Canton, China, recently enrolled in the Freshman class, has discovered that the College is quite an interesting place, he stated yesterday in an interview.

“Chinese students seem to work no more or no less than the majority of the fellows work here,” Chu said. “They like to play and have their good times. I notice this one thing, though, that is different from the college I attended last winter in Peking: the undergraduates seem to confine their social activities to the campus more than at home.”

Chu finds that interest in athletics at Haverford is no greater than in the peking institution. Soccer there, he said, is called football, and is the most popular game.

Although he was urged to study in America for several years by an uncle who graduated three years ago from the University of Michigan, it was not until last winter that he definitely decided to come to the United States. His matriculation at Haverford came as the result of recommendation of K. M. Wong, principal of the Pui Ching academy in Canton, to President W. W. Comfort while the latter was in China last winter.

The transportation systems and the high buildings of Philadelphia are the most impressive aspects of the city to Chu. “Of course, we have many autos in the large cities of China, but not such a jumble and confusion of busses, pleasure cars and trolleys as one may see almost any time in the heart of Philadelphia,” he stated.

“It is easy enough to read English,” Chu said, when asked whether he had difficulty with the language. “But when someone starts to talk very rapidly or to use slang I have trouble in understanding him.”

Chu has studied English for approximately five years, but has confined his work almost entirely to reading. English is the most popular foreign language among Chinese students, he claimed.
Chu was mentioned in Our Town (Narberth, Pennsylvania), December 17, 1927. 

In the Haverford College yearbook, The 1928 Record, Chu was listed as a freshman but he was not in the class photograph.

He was listed in the Haverford College Directory 1928–1929 and Haverford College Catalogue 1928–1929. The asterisk by Chu’s name was explained: 
An asterisk {*) is placed before the name of a student who is repeating a course, or has conditions or deficiencies in excess of two half-courses, has failed to remove a condition after the September opportunity, or is carrying an entrance condition after Freshman year.
Chu was also listed in the University of Michigan’s General Register of Faculty and Students 1928–1929. It’s not clear if Chu ever attended the University of Michigan.

Chu appeared in the sophomore class photograph (third row, far left) of The 1929 Record yearbook. 

The Handbook of Chinese Students in U.S.A. 1929 had this entry: Chu, Y.K., Journalism, Haverford College, Haverford, Pa.

The 1930 U.S. Federal Census recorded Chu as “Yao K Chu”, who was one of six Chinese lodgers at 3266 Sansom Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Chu was not named in The 1930 Record yearbook. He was mentioned in The 1931 Record as an Ex-Member.
… Good old Yiu Kui Chu also left, and is probably engaged in sacking Pekin—in his gentle way—at this very minute. … 

Chu’s whereabouts was named in The Handbook of Chinese Students in U.S.A. 1932: “Chu, Yui Kui, 196 Canal St., N.Y.C.” 

The [Chinese Journal] editor, Y. K. Chu, was a reporter by profession and a respected intellectual with an excellent command of English. His politics were liberal; a KMT member in the 1920s, he was now, while not an adherent of the Chinese left, a stern critic of the KMT establishment. He was born into a large immigrant family from Kwangtung province and had many relatives working in New York’s hand laundry trade. As a result, he had an intimate knowledge of the problems facing Chinese laundrymen and was often asked to assist them. When the anti-Chinese posters went up, for example, Chu volunteered to convince store managers to take them down. After he became editor of the Chinese Journal in 1932 he made sure the paper gave extensive coverage to the issues and problems confronting the laundrymen—not the least of which, in his opinion, was the failure of the CCBA and the traditional associations to lend their support to the struggle. When the ordinance crisis occurred, Chu became actively involved in the formation of the CHLA [Chinese Hand Laundry Association], and was elected its temporary spokesman.
The Daily Worker, January 12, 1936, reported the mass march of 45,000 people against war and fascism, and published a photograph of Chu. 

Chinatown Inside Out was published in 1936 by Barrows Mussey who was Chu’s schoolmate at Haverford College. Mussey was in the class of 1930. Chu and Mussey’s wife, Virginia, wrote the book under the pseudonym Leong Gor Yun

Leong Gor Yun was mentioned in the Chinese Digest, February 1937. 
... Leong Gor Yun, in his book, “Chinatown Inside Out,” stated that anything is leable [sic] to happen to any Chinese in these United States, and cited Wong Lee, Democratic delegate, as an unusual example. A Chinese laundryman becomes the first of his race to represent an American community to a big political caucus! What was more, Wong Lee was fortunate in picking his party affiliation, for in 1936 the thousands of Chinese voters in the country had suddenly gone Republican, just as suddenly as they had gone Democratic in 1932. ...
In The New Chinatown (1987), Peter Kwong wrote 
While the CCBA [Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association] and the traditional associations are not popular, nobody has been able to do much about them. In the past, particularly before the 1960s, public criticism was rare. In the mid-1930s, the editor of the Chinese Commercial Times, Y. K. Chu, became so incensed with the corruption of the CCBA that he wanted to tell the world about it. But he was afraid the CCBA would organize a boycott of his paper, so he wrote a book entitled Chinatown Inside Out, under the pseudonym Gor Yun Leong. I interviewed Chu in the late 1970s, just a few months before he passed away, about events that had taken place some forty years earlier. I also confronted him with the authorship of the book. He readily admitted it, but asked me not to make it public, because he was still active in the community.
In 1937 the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and Chu were involved in a lawsuit

Chu was in China during the 1940 census enumeration which was in April. 

“Yao Kui Chu” was listed on a passenger list. He sailed on the steamship President Taft from Hong Kong on September 17, 1940 and arrived three weeks later in San Francisco on October 7. Chu was involved with the National Relief Commission in Chungking, China. 

The Worcester Democrat (Maryland), November 1, 1940, published the following article.
Dr. G.Q. Adams Is President of Houston Club
Exchange Club Has Interesting Speakers in the Person of a Chinese Editor

The Houston Exchange Club of Texas had an interesting speaker, at its regular meeting last week at the Labor Hotel, in the person of Y.K. Chu, editor of the Chinese Journal of New York, who landed at San Francisco two weeks after a brush with Japanese harbor police in Yokohama, fresh from Chungking.

Said Chu “Japan could not sustain a war with the United States for longer than three months and many Japanese would welcome defeat if it ended their country’s protracted war on China.”

Dr. Granville Q. Adams, president of the Exchange club, presided at the meeting. Dr. Adams is the son of Mrs. A. Granville Adams, of this city.

Quoting the Chinese editor in an article contained in the Houston Post in its issue of October 23:

“Chinese leaders and their people are now convinced that the Japanese advance from the south and east has reached its absolute limit. They are so certain of this that already the government is concentrating on the development of small industrial units in the interior, rather than keeping their attention strictly on immediate defense problems.

“About 3,000 cooperative units are in operation in western China, and it is hoped to have 30,000 of these units providing employment and turning out necessities of life, established as soon as possible. The Chinese are now capable of turning out enough rifles, machine guns, small arms, and ammunition to maintain a guerilla [sic] warfare against Japan. For heavy armament they must look to the outside.”

“The recent reopening of the Burma road to Great Britain may not insure adequate suplies [sic] to China,” the editor said, “but can at least, be expected to help break Japan’s grip. Even with such aid as is now being received the Chinese are confident of forcing Japan to give up within the next three to four years.” 

According to School Musician, March 1942, Chu did a Chinese translation of the song, “You’re a Sap, Mister Jap”.
Dick Robertson is quite a specialist in recording these patriotic songs but too many times his rendition is rather prosaic. His list of patriotic recordings includes: “One For All, All For One”; “Goodbye Mama, I’m Off to Yokohama”; “You’re a Sap, Mr. Jap”; “We Did It Before”; “I Paid My Income Tax Today”; and “Everyone’s a Fighting Son of That Old Gang of Mine.”

“You’re a Sap, Mr. Jap” is published by Mills Music who also publishes “We’ll Knock the Japs Right Into the Laps of the Nazis”, and “We’ll Always Remember Pearl Harbor.” “You’re a Sap, Mr. Jap” is recorded by Eddy Duchin and Carl Hoff. Mills has mailed 400 copies of the tune to army and navy bands. Columbia Records executives were reluctant to allow this tune to be recorded until Mills gave them evidence of the sale of several thousand copies of sheet music. The New York publication “The Chinese Journal” announces that its editor, Y. K. Chu, has written lyrics to “You're a Sap.” Proceeds of this version are to go to China War Relief; It is said to be the theme song of the Chinese New Year (4369) which began on February 15th. The first line begins “Nay se chun choy.
Chu was mentioned in the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper on October 10, 1942 and February 16, 1943

A photograph of Chu (right) appeared in Editor and Publisher, March 30, 1946. 

Chu was listed in the 1956 Haverford College Alumni Directory here and here

Chu was quoted by The New York Times in two Chinatown articles dated November 19, 1970 and October 27, 1971

Chu passed away in the late 1970s. 

Further Reading and Listening
Asian American History in NYC
     CCBA Headquarters/Chinese Community Center (The Zhonghua Dalou)

“You’re a Sap, Mr. Jap”


June Barrows Mussey was born on March 30, 1910, in Tompkinsville, Staten Island, New York, according to his 1924 passport application. 

In March 1916, Mussey traveled with his parents, Henry Raymond Mussey and Mabel Hay Barrows, to China and Japan. They returned to the United States at Seattle, Washington on September 7, 1916. 

The 1920 U.S. Federal Census recorded Mussey and his parents in Cortlandt, New York on Mt. Airy Road. His father was a newspaper editor. 

On November 28, 1924, a passport was issued to Mussey who planned to travel and study in Holland, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia and Belgium. He returned to New York on June 14, 1926. 

Mussey attended Haverford College in Pennsylvania. He was in the class of 1930. The 1930 school yearbook, The Record, identified classmates who left the school before graduating. (Yiu Kui Chu was a Haverford College student, class of 1931, who also dropped out.)
... June Barrow Mussey, after three years of vehemently profane statements concerning the low quality of a Haverford education, had his bluff called at this time and yielded to family pressure to conclude his studies at Columbia. In his own opinion, Muzz was quite the most Satanic young man on campus; but after some acquaintance with him, one soon realized that his boisterous wickedness was confined entirely to speech and thought. As a matter of fact, his chief real vices were an overpowering insistence on performing sleight-of-hand tricks and a pernicious habit of thumbing his nose. ...
According to the 1930 census, Mussey and his parents resided in Manhattan, New York City at 148 East 40 Street. 

Mussey married Virginia Howell on June 28, 1932. They returned to New York from Southampton, England, on November 17, 1932. 

The Vassar Quarterly, May 15, 1936, said “Virginia Howell Mussey and husband have their own publishing business, Loring & Mussey, Inc., at 55 Fifth Avenue, New York City.” 

In 1936, Mussey published Chinatown Inside Out which was written, under the pseudonym Leong Gor Yun, by his wife and Yiu Kui Chu. 

Loring & Mussey published John Mulholland’s Story of Magic. Mussey also wrote under the pen name Henry Hay

In the late 1930s, Mussey divorced his first wife and married Jane Alley. The Brattleboro Reformer (Vermont), March 23, 1939, said “In Vernon, March 23, by Rev. Owen Washburn, J. Barrows Mussey of Wellesley, Mass., and Miss Jane Alley of New York.”

The 1940 census said the newlyweds lived in the household of his brother-in-law, Frances Alley, in Morristown, New Jersey, at 54 Elm Street. 

On October 16, 1940, Mussey signed his World War II draft card. His description was five feet ten inches, 160 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. Self-employed Mussey lived in Brattleboro, Vermont. Sometime later, the address was crossed out and replaced with Hotel Brevoort, 5th Avenue and 8th Street, New York. Mussey was a captain in the Marine Corp. 

After the war, Mussey moved to Germany where he passed away on July 27, 1985. 


Oscar Ogg, December 13, 1908, Richmond, Virginia – August 19, 1971, Stamford, Connecticut

Ogg is profiled here


Creighton Peet, April 12, 1899, New York, New York – May 15, 1977, New York, New York

The New York Times, May 17, 1977
Creighton B. Peet, author of young people’s books, died Sunday at a Manhattan hospital. He was 78 years old and lived at 300 East 34th Street.

Mr. Peet, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, wrote 15 books on subjects that ranged from animals to building a house.

He was a contributor to such magazines as The New Yorker, Life, Science Digest, and the Book Review and the Sunday Magazine of The New York Times. He also wrote drama reviews for a West Coast paper.

Surviving are his wife, the former Bertha A. Hauck; a son, Creighton, and two grandchildren.

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(Next post on Friday: Jim Lee, Artist, Teacher and Chef)

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