PORTLAND — On Sunday, Oct. 3 at 1:30 p.m., the Chinese and American Friendship Association of Maine will unveil an historic marker 615 Forest Avenue in Portland which was the family home and hand laundry operated by Toy Len Goon, who was both the Maine and American Mother of the Year in 1952.
Toy Len Goon is the most prominent Chinese American to have lived in Maine. She was featured in one of the five episodes of the 2020 PBS series “Asian Americans.”
After her husband, Dogan Goon died at the Togus Veterans’ Hospital in 1941, Mrs. Goon raised her eight children, who ranged in age between 3 and 16, as a single mother. She was visited by a representative of the Portland city government who suggested that she put some of her children in foster care. Mrs. Goon refused that suggestion and kept her laundry open with the assistance of her older children, three of whom took turns dropping out of Deering High School to help their mom and then returning to Deering while the next oldest dropped out.
All of her eight children had post-secondary education. One son became a physician, the other sons earned degrees in physics and electrical engineering, a PhD in chemistry, and an LLM in law. The girls had careers in court reporting, social work, and for the U.S. government.
Mrs. Goon received her award at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City where she also gave interviews to the national media and was the subject of a Movie Tone Newsreel. She then traveled to Washington, D. C., where she was given a reception by First Lady Bess Truman, she was given lunch by the Speaker of the House in his Capitol dining room, and was given a reception at the Embassy of the Republic of China. On her way home to Portland, she was given a parade through the New York City Chinatown.
Attending will be members and friends of CAFAM, members of Mrs. Goon’s extended family, Portland city council members, and representatives of the Republic of China’s Boston Consulate, the Maine Historical Society, and Maine Unified Asian Community.