Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Howard Lee and the New Chinatown Souvenir Photograph Folders

Howard Kenneth Lee, a photographer, was born Lee Gock How on June 2, 1913 in Canton, China, according to his Petition for Naturalization application dated September 9, 1954. 

A passenger list named the cities and dates of the steamship Shinyo Maru’s journey: Hongkong (November 1), Shanghai (November 4), Nagasaki (November 6), Kobe (November 9), Yokohama (November 13), and Honolulu (November 24). Lee and his parents, Lee Court Ming and Hom Chee, arrived in San Francisco, California on December 6, 1916. (See lines 145–147)

Lee married Marie Nishioka, May 22, 1933, in Visalia, California. Marie’s Japanese name, Mariye, was on her father’s Petition for Naturalization application.

The 1937, 1938, 1941 and 1942 Los Angeles, California city directories listed Lee at 2816 Trinity. 

The 1940 United States Census said Lee and his wife had three sons, Howard, Curtis and Stephen. Also in the household was his sister-in-law, Hisaye Nishioka. They lived at the same address. Lee was a salesman for wholesale fruit and produce. 

On October 16, 1940, Lee signed his World War II draft card. His address was unchanged. Lee was self-employed. He was described as five feet eight inches, 160 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. 

The Los Angeles Examiner, June 25, 1938, published a full-page advertisement inviting the reader to “The Enchanting Charm of Old China in Los Angeles.” The New Chinatown debuted. It’s not clear when the souvenir photographs began at the restaurants. On the back of some of the souvenir photograph folders was “Lee’s Souvenir Photos, 426 East 28th Street, Los Angeles 11, Calif.” The address had a postal zone number that began in 1943. 

That address was recorded in the 1950 census for Lee’s family which included a daughter, Lorna. Lee was self-employed in photography. 

Lee was naturalized on November 11, 1954. 

Lee passed away on June 25, 1983 in Los Angeles. He was laid to rest at Forest Lawn Memorial Park

Photograph folders

Li Po Cafe, July 2, 1945
Photograph inserted on the left side of the frame.

Golden Pagoda Cafe, October 28, 1945

At some point, five Chinese characters were added to the art. 

Rice Bowl, March 14, 1947

Letterpress Printing Block

The name, Lombardi, is near the lower right-hand corner of the cover. How Lombardi got the assignment is unknown. I believe the following person created the artwork.

Adamo Lombardi was a South Italian born on January 13, 1904 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, according to his Declaration of Intention naturalization application dated May 22, 1933. However, his World War II daft card and the Social Security Death Index said his birth year was 1902. On September 27, 1907, Lombardi’s family arrived in the port of New York from Naples, Italy.

Lombardi was naturalized under the name Adam Carl Lombardi on July 10, 1936 in Los Angeles. 

The 1938 Los Angeles, California city directory listed Lombardi as a commercial artist at the QRS Neon Corporation. He lived at 1212 South Alvarado. 

Lombardi’s 1938 voter registration said he was an artist and Democrat who lived at 1842 West 12th Street. 

According to the 1940 United States Census, Lombardi lived with his parents, Vincent and Maria, in Los Angeles at the same address. Lombardi had four years of high school and earned $820 in 1939.

On February 15, 1942, Lombardi signed his World War II draft card. He resided at 1202 South Irolo Street and was a self-employed commercial artist. He named his mother, Carmela Lombardi, as the contact person. (Her middle name, Maria, was used in the 1940 census.)

Lombardi married Francisca R. Nuno on August 25, 1944 in Los Angeles. The marriage information was on his wife’s Petition for Naturalization application. 

The 1950 census said Lombardi had four daughters. His family lived at 479 North Serrano Avenue. Lombardi was a commercial artist at a floodlight company. 

The 1957 State of California Division of Real Estate Directory of Brokers and Salesmen had this entry: Lombardi, Adam Carl (B) 449 N. Serrano Ave.

On January 12, 1967, Lombardi filed a claim for Social Security benefits. Lombardi passed away on March 15, 1988 in Los Angeles. 

Further Reading and Viewing
Vintage Menu Art, New Chinatown, Chinese Jade Lounge, Los Angeles 1945

(Next post on Wednesday: Flower Drum Song, August 1961)

Thursday, July 20, 2023

National Fortune Cookie Day (Music to Someone’s Ears)

July 20 is the first of two National Fortune Cookie Days. The next one is on September 13. 

The Fortune Cookies publicity still
Top Center: Joanne Lee; Bottom, left to right: Joann Lee, Sue Jean Lee and Rose Lee

In the book, Asian Americans in the Twenty-first Century, the group was identified as follows: “The Fortune Cookies, 1965 (top: Joanne Lau; bottom, left to right: Rose Lau, Sue Jean Lee, and Joann Lee)”. 

Lyrics by Philip Barr and Sol Meschel. Barr was a music teacher at Lee’s high school. 

The Fortune Cookies

Cash Box, August 14, 1965, Smash Records: The Fortune Cookies

KRLA Beat, August 21, 1965, page 14: The Fortune Cookies, a cute female vocal group, have a smash in the making for their first release on Smash records titled “It Sould [sic] Have Been Me”.

Billboard, December 25, 1965

Discogs, The Fortune Cookies
45cat, The Fortune Cookies
Rate Your Music, It Should Have Been Me / A Girl in Love
WFMU, Crayons to Perfume with GlynisGirlGroup Girl: Playlist from February 26, 2020
The Mercury Labels: The 1964–1969 Era, Michel Ruppli, Ed Novitsky, Greenwood Press, 1993 

Asian Americans in the Twenty-first Century: Oral Histories of First-to Fourth-generation Americans from China, Japan, India, Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Laos
Joann Faung Jean Lee
New Press, 2008

Gems: Twenty original songs of love and heartbreak, featuring the classic 60’s girl group sound. (no date)
Side one, track three: The Fortune Cookies ‘A Girl in Love’

Groovy Tuesdays, Gems Volume 1—Girl Group Anthology 

Doo-Wops from the Smash Archives Volume #1, track 21: A Girl in Love—Fortune Cookies


“Hey Jackie”
Ben Fong-Torres and the Fortune Cookies
Carousel Records

“Young Brothers”
Ben Fong-Torres and the Fortune Cookies
Carousel Records

“Moo Goo Gai Pan or How I Found Love in a Fortune Cookie Factory”
“John Goldfarb, Please Come Home” (1965) film promotion
20th Century Fox Records

“A Man and a Woman”
The Fortune Cookies
Swingphonic Records

“Toy Balloons”
The Fortune Cookies
Swingphonic Records

“The Great American Fortune Cookie”
Rick Kershaw
Columbine Records

“Fortune Cookie”
The Mad Planets
Elbo Head Records, 1990

The Cucumbers
Zero Hour, 1994

(Next post on Wednesday: Howard Lee and the New Chinatown Souvenir Photograph Folders)