Kindred Journey 21 – Mary “Butchie” Tom
Mary was born in Phoenix Arizona from Chinese immigrant parents. She came from a family who worked in and owned grocery stores in Arizona as many immigrants owned and worked in stores. Frustrated with the racism she experienced in Phoenix and her choices for work she took a bus to China Town in San Francisco. She first started working as a housekeeper cleaning when she got there and around 1940 she heard about a job opportunity to be a dancer in a Chinese owned nightclub to be opened called “Forbidden City” (the first Chinese owned nightclub) after the city of the same name in Beijing. She started out learning to dance using choreography and became one of many prominent dancers in the Chinese nightlife scene which was visited by all types of people during the start of World War 2. Mary married and moved back to Arizona where she continued to dance; square dancing!
Sources: Oral history-Chinese history of Arizona, Classic ladies of color