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Also, article is not written in a formal, neutral tone. Onel5969 (talk) 14:04, 13 March 2015 (UTC)


Toy Len Goon (阮彩蓮 Ruǎn Cǎilián, 14 August 1891 – 27 May 1931) the first Asian American to receive the “American Mother of the Year” award from the American Mothers Committee.

Biography

Early Life

Toy Len Chin was born in Taishan, Guangdong, China in 1894.[1] In 1921, she married Dogan Goon and immigrated to the United States in the same year. She immigrated through Vancouver and settled in Portland, Maine with her husband where they ran a laundry service.[2][3] Together, they raised eight children: five boys and three girls. Dogon Goon was drafted for World War I and served for the United States; he died of gangrene when their eighth child was three-years old in 1941; Toy Len Goon was left to raise their children aged 3 to 16.[4][5] She declined welfare from the city of Portland and the offer for foster homes for the children, and would work to manage things on her own.[6] She had strict expectations for her children to help out with running the business; sometimes, the children would sometimes take a leave of absence to help out with the family business, but that work was a means to the end: education was what would lead her children to success.[7]

American Mother of the Year 1952

In 1952, Clara L. Soule, a former elementary supervisor at Portland Public Schools and the first Americanization program director in Portland, encouraged the Portland Business and Professional Women’s Club to nominate Goon for Maine’s Mother of the Year Award. Soule was a family friend that observed the all Goon children of were clean, well disciplined, and attentive manner in the school system.[8][9][10] Not only did Goon win the statewide contest, she was selected to become the 1952 American Mother of the Year—winning the national contest run by the American Mothers Committee (AMC) of the Golden Rule Foundation on Sunday, May 4th 1952.[11][12] The American Mothers Committee was established “for the specific purpose of giving to the observance of Mothers’ Day throughout the nation, a fine spiritual character truly representative of the ideals of Mothers everywhere.”[13]

The press release from the American Mothers Committee showcased Goon as an exemplary wife, mother, and citizen. It specifically highlighted her life as the wife of a disabled WWI veteran and a fabricated story about how she supported her husband’s patriotic duty when she took over the Laundry business. In reality, Goon did not enter the United States until 1921 and was not a naturalized citizen until 1968.[14]

The selection or the award was celebrated in Maine, Boston, New York and Washington DC in the week leading up to Mother’s Day with parades, escorts, trophies, awards, and celebratory dinners.[15][16] “On May 6, 1952, she attended a luncheon at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, hosted by the American Mothers Committee.[17] On May 11, she returned to New York for a parade through Chinatown, greeted by a crowd estimated at 2,000.”[18] On May 13, 1952, on the steps of the Capitol, Toy Len Goon along with her children posed for a photo with Maine Representative Robert Hale of Maine, Chinese Ambassador of the Republic of China Wellington Koo, and his wife, Oei Hui Lan.[19] On May 14, she had lunch at the dining room of the Speaker of the House of Representatives and visited the White House and met First Lady Bess Truman.[20] Later in May and in June, she was honored in Boston and at several events in Portland.[21]

Later Life

By the time Goon received the awards, most of her children had finished or were in college. All did very well academically with most children received scholarships for college or for graduate or medical schools.[22]

Five years after her honor, a newspaper article noted that her son Carroll was a physician, Richard a businessman, Edward a research chemist, Albert a lawyer, Josephine a mother, Arthur, a Navy veteran, studying electrical engineering; Doris a court reporter and Janet a college student.[23]

Shortly after receiving the award, Toy Len Goon moved to Lynn, Massachusetts, to be closer to her children, most of who had already left Portland.[24] Toy Len lived to be 101 years old, passing away in 1993.[25]

Significance

Cold War Connection

In 1952, Toy Len Goon became a symbol of motherhood and also of the triumph of democracy over Communist politics.[26] The promotion of a model Chinese American woman went hand in hand with the ideology of containment and integration and connected domestic politics with foreign policies.[27] Both the domestic media and Cold War propagandists saw Goon, a self-employed, working-class, Chinese immigrant mother, as a rhetorical tool to emphasize the superiority of U.S. democracy over communism. Information experts highlighted Goon’s awards to contrast the different gender and family policies employed in the United States and in communist countries, especially in the Peoples' Republic of China. While propagandists constructed the United States as a stalwart supporter of traditional gender and family values, they condemned the PRC for breaking up families—especially for taking children away from their mothers.[28] Unsurprisingly, the committee situated Goon’s acclaim in similar Cold War language: “The story of the life of Mrs. Toy Len Chin Goon is the story of America—a saga of democracy.”[29]

Asians and Asian Americans in the US

This story is telling of the American life in the 1950’s and to the construction of the Chinese American identity in the mid-twentieth century. Goon’s award and celebration of the ideal American motherhood helped to normalize a formerly ostracized community given that her award was given less than a decade after the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed.[30][31] To the American populace and in the media’s eyes, the promotion of Toy Len Goon, a non-white working immigrant mother, as mother of the United States accentuates American liberalism, equality, and ethnic assimilation.[32] Goon’s success in singlehandedly raising eight successful children who were ideal, patriotic citizens highlighted the upward mobility available to working-class minority widowed mothers, which helped to strengthen the image of ethnic integration.[33]

Legacy

With around 100 descendants, her story remains very much alive. Gary Libby, a trustee at the Maine Historical Society took an interest in her story as a part of the poorly documented narrative on the Chinese Immigration history in Maine.[34] Artifacts from Goon’s life have been on display at the New York Historical Society, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington D.C., and at the Maine Historical Society in Portland.[35]

Her most enduring legacy lies with those who knew her. Toy Len was beloved till the end of her life, by her children, by her numerous grandchildren, and by the Chinese communities in Portland and Boston alike, often calling her the “Mother’s Mother.”[36][37]

See Also

References

  1. Chin, Nelson. "Goon (Chin) Toy Len 阮陳彩蓮." Geni. 13 June 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2015. <http://www.geni.com/people/Goon-Chin-Toy-Len-阮陳彩蓮/6000000019858188307>
  2. Corby, Rhiannon. "Mother's Mother: The Story an American Mother of the Year." Creativist. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <https://salt2014.creatavist.com/mothersmother>
  3. Kanes, Candace. "Toy Len Goon: Mother of the Year." Maine Memory Network. Maine Historical Society, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <https://www.mainememory.net/sitebuilder/site/778/page/1187/display>
  4. Corby, Rhiannon. "Mother's Mother: The Story an American Mother of the Year." Creativist. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <https://salt2014.creatavist.com/mothersmother>
  5. Kanes, Candace. "Toy Len Goon: Mother of the Year." Maine Memory Network. Maine Historical Society, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <https://www.mainememory.net/sitebuilder/site/778/page/1187/display>
  6. Corby, Rhiannon. "Mother's Mother: The Story an American Mother of the Year." Creativist. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <https://salt2014.creatavist.com/mothersmother>
  7. Corby, Rhiannon. "Mother's Mother: The Story an American Mother of the Year." Creativist. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <https://salt2014.creatavist.com/mothersmother>
  8. Corby, Rhiannon. "Mother's Mother: The Story an American Mother of the Year." Creativist. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <https://salt2014.creatavist.com/mothersmother>
  9. Kanes, Candace. "Toy Len Goon: Mother of the Year." Maine Memory Network. Maine Historical Society, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <https://www.mainememory.net/sitebuilder/site/778/page/1187/display>
  10. Yeh, Chiou-Ling. ""A Saga of Democracy:" Toy Len Goon, American Mother of the Year, and the Cultural Cold War." Pacific Historical Review 81.3 (2012): 432-61. JSTOR. University of California Press. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/phr.2012.81.3.432>
  11. Corby, Rhiannon. "Mother's Mother: The Story an American Mother of the Year." Creativist. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <https://salt2014.creatavist.com/mothersmother>
  12. Kanes, Candace. "Toy Len Goon: Mother of the Year." Maine Memory Network. Maine Historical Society, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <https://www.mainememory.net/sitebuilder/site/778/page/1187/display>
  13. O'Flaherty, Katherine. "The Road (ship and Train) Taken." Stillwater Historians. 1 June 2012. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <http://stillwaterhistorians.com/2012/06/01/the-road-ship-and-train-taken/>
  14. Yeh, Chiou-Ling. ""A Saga of Democracy:" Toy Len Goon, American Mother of the Year, and the Cultural Cold War." Pacific Historical Review 81.3 (2012): 432-61. JSTOR. University of California Press. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/phr.2012.81.3.432>
  15. Corby, Rhiannon. "Mother's Mother: The Story an American Mother of the Year." Creativist. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <https://salt2014.creatavist.com/mothersmother>
  16. Kanes, Candace. "Toy Len Goon: Mother of the Year." Maine Memory Network. Maine Historical Society, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <https://www.mainememory.net/sitebuilder/site/778/page/1187/display>
  17. Kanes, Candace. "Toy Len Goon: Mother of the Year." Maine Memory Network. Maine Historical Society, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <https://www.mainememory.net/sitebuilder/site/778/page/1187/display>
  18. Kanes, Candace. "Toy Len Goon: Mother of the Year." Maine Memory Network. Maine Historical Society, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <https://www.mainememory.net/sitebuilder/site/778/page/1187/display>
  19. Yeh, Chiou-Ling. ""A Saga of Democracy:" Toy Len Goon, American Mother of the Year, and the Cultural Cold War." Pacific Historical Review 81.3 (2012): 432-61. JSTOR. University of California Press. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/phr.2012.81.3.432>
  20. Kanes, Candace. "Toy Len Goon: Mother of the Year." Maine Memory Network. Maine Historical Society, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <https://www.mainememory.net/sitebuilder/site/778/page/1187/display>
  21. Kanes, Candace. "Toy Len Goon: Mother of the Year." Maine Memory Network. Maine Historical Society, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <https://www.mainememory.net/sitebuilder/site/778/page/1187/display>
  22. Yeh, Chiou-Ling. ""A Saga of Democracy:" Toy Len Goon, American Mother of the Year, and the Cultural Cold War." Pacific Historical Review 81.3 (2012): 432-61. JSTOR. University of California Press. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/phr.2012.81.3.432>
  23. Kanes, Candace. "Toy Len Goon: Mother of the Year." Maine Memory Network. Maine Historical Society, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <https://www.mainememory.net/sitebuilder/site/778/page/1187/display>
  24. Kanes, Candace. "Toy Len Goon: Mother of the Year." Maine Memory Network. Maine Historical Society, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <https://www.mainememory.net/sitebuilder/site/778/page/1187/display>
  25. Corby, Rhiannon. "Mother's Mother: The Story an American Mother of the Year." Creativist. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <https://salt2014.creatavist.com/mothersmother>
  26. Corby, Rhiannon. "Mother's Mother: The Story an American Mother of the Year." Creativist. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <https://salt2014.creatavist.com/mothersmother>
  27. Yeh, Chiou-Ling. ""A Saga of Democracy:" Toy Len Goon, American Mother of the Year, and the Cultural Cold War." Pacific Historical Review 81.3 (2012): 432-61. JSTOR. University of California Press. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/phr.2012.81.3.432>
  28. Yeh, Chiou-Ling. ""A Saga of Democracy:" Toy Len Goon, American Mother of the Year, and the Cultural Cold War." Pacific Historical Review 81.3 (2012): 448. JSTOR. University of California Press. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/phr.2012.81.3.432>
  29. Yeh, Chiou-Ling. ""A Saga of Democracy:" Toy Len Goon, American Mother of the Year, and the Cultural Cold War." Pacific Historical Review 81.3 (2012): 448. JSTOR. University of California Press. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/phr.2012.81.3.432>
  30. Yeh, Chiou-Ling. ""A Saga of Democracy:" Toy Len Goon, American Mother of the Year, and the Cultural Cold War." Pacific Historical Review 81.3 (2012): 432-61. JSTOR. University of California Press. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/phr.2012.81.3.432>
  31. O'Flaherty, Katherine. "The Road (ship and Train) Taken." Stillwater Historians. 1 June 2012. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <http://stillwaterhistorians.com/2012/06/01/the-road-ship-and-train-taken/>
  32. Yeh, Chiou-Ling. ""A Saga of Democracy:" Toy Len Goon, American Mother of the Year, and the Cultural Cold War." Pacific Historical Review 81.3 (2012): 432. JSTOR. University of California Press. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/phr.2012.81.3.432>
  33. Yeh, Chiou-Ling. ""A Saga of Democracy:" Toy Len Goon, American Mother of the Year, and the Cultural Cold War." Pacific Historical Review 81.3 (2012): 441. JSTOR. University of California Press. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/phr.2012.81.3.432>
  34. Corby, Rhiannon. "Mother's Mother: The Story an American Mother of the Year." Creativist. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <https://salt2014.creatavist.com/mothersmother>
  35. Corby, Rhiannon. "Mother's Mother: The Story an American Mother of the Year." Creativist. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <https://salt2014.creatavist.com/mothersmother>
  36. Corby, Rhiannon. "Mother's Mother: The Story an American Mother of the Year." Creativist. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <https://salt2014.creatavist.com/mothersmother>
  37. Kanes, Candace. "Toy Len Goon: Mother of the Year." Maine Memory Network. Maine Historical Society, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <https://www.mainememory.net/sitebuilder/site/778/page/1187/display>

Toy Len Goon

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