Sunday, June 4, 2017

Part 12 

Triads, Tongs & Hatchet Men:
Oaths Beyond the Grave
Norinko Hanasaki Research Case

by Anthony Servante 

Hatchet Men circa 1880s

In Part 11, the W. Chris Dubois (aka Tom Thumb) notes, I found another connection to Norinko. Dubois had not only been researching the railroad's connection to the McClure Tunnel and Norinko, he was also following a link between the Hanasaki family to Little Tokyo and Chinatown in Los Angeles. I received an email from the father of Norinko telling me to look into the connection between the Triads and the Hanasaki family. He wouldn’t elaborate but informed me that he would be attending my meeting with the temple priest on June 12th in two weeks. His email to me is below.

Because the Dubois notes are confusing and it's difficult to separate Marie Mayatowski's influence and plagiarism from the original writings, to speak nothing of what the rambling nature his emails to Marie evolved into, I have decided to redo the tenements of the research and reach my own conclusions, be they wary or warped. The truth must speak for itself. Do not kill the messenger--namely, me.

Email from Torinko “Torrance” Hanasaki, father of Norinko Hanasaki
Dated May 25th, 2017.

Honorable Dr. Servante,
I looked into your past and found you are a professor, a doctor of literature. I had to know who it was that has been following the case of my daughter Norinko’s disappearance. Your blog does not cover half of the information that surrounds Norinko. I hear an invitation has been sent to you for the services at the Temple. I also know you will be meeting with our Priest on June 12th. I plan to attend that meeting, if only to share with you what your articles have been missing, the crucial element to helping my daughter. But I can only dispense this information with the priest by our side. In the meantime, you should look into the arrival of the Triad to the railway camp for the Chinese workers 1885, prior to the building of the infamous McClure Tunnel.

I look forward to meeting you,
Your Humble Servant,

Torinko Hanasaki

Triads, Tongs, and Hatchet Men

On September 2, 1885, the Rock Springs Massacre in Wyoming involved dozens of angry White workers who attacked Chinese workers and killed 28, injuring many more. The practice of the railroad barons of paying the Chinese less money led to the hiring of more Asians over the more highly paid White laborers, who retaliated by setting the attacks in motion that September day in mining camps and railroad camps alike. The Chinese towns around the camps were burnt down.

Word reached Hong Kong of the killings and the Triads, the crime organization who in the 1880s acted as both police and businessmen, responded by sending a branch of the organization, called a Tong, to protect the Chinese workers along the railway as it grew from Wyoming to California. The Tongs employed paid assassins who carried hatchets and revolvers to guard the Chinese camps and helped to rebuild the towns now under Triad protection and rule. In addition to tailor shops, laundries, restaurants, grocery stores, and medicinal shops, the Tongs also brought opium dens, brothels, and saloons.

Because of the fierce loyalty of the Triads (the Masters) to their clients and rank-and-file members, no matter if they were Tong emissaries or Hatchet Men or Saloon Keepers, the Chinese communities burgeoning around the expanding string of towns along the railway felt pride and safety under the leadership of this honorable organization.

Part of this honor system stems from the "Oaths" each member takes before joining a Triad. These are but a few of the 36 Oaths that all leaders, followers, and entrepreneurs must memorize:
  • I must treat the parents and relatives of my sworn brothers as my own kin. I shall suffer death by five thunderbolts if I do not keep this oath.
  • I shall assist my sworn brothers to bury their parents and brothers by offering financial or physical assistance. I shall be killed by five thunderbolts if I pretend to have no knowledge of their troubles.
  • I will take good care of the wives or children of sworn brothers entrusted to my keeping. If I do not I will be killed by five thunderbolts.
  • If any of my sworn brothers are killed, or arrested, or have departed to some other place, I will assist their wives and children who may be in need. If I pretend to have no knowledge of their difficulties I will be killed by five thunderbolts.
  • I must never reveal Hung secrets or signs when speaking to outsiders. If I do so I will be killed by myriads of swords.

It would appear obvious at this point, to me anyway, that the Oaths of the Triads included the proper burial, care, and treatment of the Chinese workers and their family should the laborers die under the wing of the protective Triads. With the high number of Chinese who fell victim in the building of tunnels (as we have seen in earlier parts), especially when Nitro was introduced by the Railroad Barons to speed up the process of the railway expansion, there must have been many children and families orphaned or widowed in these tunnel accidents under the watch of the Triads, Tongs, and Hatchet Men.

Question: Were the Hanasakis one of these families forever under the care of the Triads and their Oaths? Something to consider when I meet with Mr. Hanasaki on June 12th at the temple. Maybe this is the path he put me on with his email. ??

A Footnote regarding the Chinese and Japanese feud in early Los Angeles:

Chinese Quarter, ca. 1885, [The Original Chinatown]
by Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria

Little Tokyo, Today

Chinatown and Little Tokyo, the Los Angeles Connection

When the railroad reached the Pacific Coast, the rail work continued northward to San Francisco. However, many of the Chinese elected to stay in Los Angeles and built the Chinese Quarter, a town not unlike the communities springing up with the help of the Triads. By the 1910s, the citizens of Los Angeles did not like the presence of the opium dens and brothels and undertook legislation to forbid such activities. With the help from lawyers hired by the Tongs, the Chinese fought back in the courts, citing the Chinese Opera House, Temples, and legitimate businesses in the hundreds along Alameda Avenue and Sunset Boulevard. The Central Pacific Railroad, however, rendered the legal proceedings moot as they purchased all the land that the Chinese Quarter sat on and razed the town to build the Union Station rail terminal connecting the ending of the westerly path of the rails to the new northerly direction. 

Union Station Grand Opening

When the Chinese moved their legal businesses to the north end of Alameda, Broadway, and Hill Street, they abandoned the illegal businesses of the Tongs, who were drawing too much attention from the Los Angeles Police Department. The Japanese rail workers who settled the land north on Alameda were forced out by the Tongs and, ironically, it was the Japanese who took in the Triad members into their new location on First Street after their ouster by their Chinese "brothers". In the 1940s, when the Japanese were incarcerated during World War II, Little Tokyo was virtually emptied and the Tongs returned to Hong Kong to defend the Mother Land from the Japanese imperialists of the Axis Powers. 

The Tongs passed into legend as Hollywood villains during the Thirties, Forties, Fifties, and early Sixties when Hatchet Men became synonymous with Chinese Gangsters. But the Triads still exist to this day, mostly in legitimate business. And it is said that they still keep their Oaths to the victims of the railroad by caring for their families, whether Chinese or Japanese, from generation to generation, long after the graves of the original Tong members were filled and new members now fulfill the promises of the old Oaths.

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