Quon Mane was the fourth of five brothers, who against the odds, became the patriarch of the Quon family in San Diego as its various members sought footholds in Exclusion-era America.
The details of his life and career, and those of his four brothers, were mostly forgotten over the years. But a research effort started during Covid and combining scraps of family anecdote with immigration records and newspaper archives has yielded a vivid if still incomplete picture of Quon Mane as the go-to fixer for an extended network of Quons.
This new Quon Mane is a greater man than the uncle presented in Albert's stories, although not incompatible with him. Albert felt hemmed in by his uncle and remembered only lack of imagination. But that hardly gives Quon Mane his due. From unpromising beginnings peeling vegetables and pulling up sage brush, Quon Mane caught the eye of influential people and built a respected business that was the livelihood and starting point for many Quons including Albert.
Indeed we'd like to think that if pressed today, Albert might admit that he learned a thing or two from Uncle Quon Mane, who as a younger man was always photographed gazing toward a space in the distance that he was carving out for himself.
We'd like to think that Albert might acknowledge that being self-made didn't mean reaching a particular codified goal as defined by someone else, but simply having propelled oneself much farther beyond one's beginnings than anyone else could possibly have imagined.