Tong war, born of woman! Of few days, and full of trouble!
Seems there’s always a highbinder war simmering down in Chinatown. But despite the literality of that damn’d “huddled masses” business, there stays an easy peace down amongst the Celestials. Until.
When a Hop Sing Tong all-tong banquet (for those of you not in the know, a Tong could throw down on your local set) was held in the early weeks of June, the Bing Gon Tong was forbidden to attend—and as such, the Bing Gon elected to remove their slave girls from the Chinatown sex market.
And thus comes the storm.
At first the cops—informed (as they are to-day) by merchants and oldtimers who have little stake in any war—spent their time shaking down and locking up local Chinese for carrying Caliente-smuggled firearms, and having hired Caliente gunmen.
Then Chin Hai, local laundryman and Bing Gon fellow-traveler, was shot at by the Hop Sing Tong, and cops arrested Ah Quay, Ah Mee, Ah Soo, Tom Tong and Wong Kee. After cops picked up these men and the hammerless revolver they (or one, or perhaps none) used in the shooting, two knifing attempts by highbinders went down. It was a busy night. Chinese merchants slept in their stores. They appealed for police escorts. And all cops could uncover in the Chinese interstices were some smokeless-powder cartridges for great-caliber weapons.
The young and fair Ling Auk, left, who had been friendly to the Bing Gon, was surprised by Hop Sing hatchetmen on June 19. Luckily, they were scared away by her protectors. The Hop Sing Tong has always been the most warlike in the Chinese settlement. They are centered at 529+1/2 North Los Angeles Street, where they have built a walled fortress replete with intricate tunnels that repeatedly prevent their capture. That White girls retire there to smoke opium is a sad, accepted fact of modernity.
Outside agitators are, of course, a factor.
Tong representatives from San Francisco are urging bloodshed.
Meanwhile, the bloodthirsty boys of the Hop Sing have donned their mail. What looks like an ordinary quilted silk Chinese coat to the naked eye actually conceals a screen of steel links, bullet and knife and, most importantly to the tong war, hatchet-proof.
Legendary San Fran avenger Lu Fook has even arrived in town; he is storied to have survived four shots in the back while his followers killed six hatchetmen. Heavy muscle from up north always makes copper flee in LA; where in SF the Great Six Companies War Board settle tong differences, Los Angeles just has some officers watching the trains to note incoming highbinders and look on as the Oriental Quarter, centered at Alameda and Marchessault Streets, erupts in bloodshed.
Luckily, Wong Fong, mayor of the San Francisco Chinatown, was called to Los Angeles last week to settle the dispute. Sui Hoo Fow and Sam Ham Gay were named as the perps in the Chin Hai shooting, and were ostracized by their tongs. Again we settle into an uneasy, easy peace.