Jingles (Gingle's) Restaurant, 70 Nathan Road, kowloon

It must have been around the early/mid fifties as I was just a wee feller, but on saturday mornings, after shopping we used to go to 'Jingles', which Judging from the address was on the corner of Nathan and Humphries avenue. A few things stick in my mind; Jingles was a huge amiable American guy who needed two of his cafeteria's metal chairs to support his considerable weight. As a child I was totally mesmerised by the flashing lights and music from the Wurlitzer juke box and the amazing vanilla milkshakes. From what I can recall the Cafe was sparsley decorated and had metal chairs and red gingham table-cloths. I vaguely remember there being an alfresco area out back. The only reference that I can find is a U.S. NAVY directive from the Korean war, stating that 'Jingles' was one of the permitted locations on Kowloon that personnel could visit. I'm pretty sure Jingles himself was ex military and I had heard stories in later years that Jingles had had a brother who had been hanged by the Japanese, out side the restuarant, during the occupation. Would love to hear more.

Forum: 

We've had an email noting the spelling of the name was with a G, Gingles. A quick Google turns up several mentions - please let us know if you find anything interesting.

MrB

ISN'T THAT AMAZING, AFTER ALL THOSE YEARS, HEARING MY FOLKS TALK OF IT, I JUST ASSUMED IT WAS SPELT WITH A 'J'. EVEN THAT ARTICLE ON THE USS KIMBERLY SPELLS IT WITH A 'j'. THERES QUITE AN INFORMATIVE, IF BRIEF, PIECE OF INFORMATION EXTRACTED FROM RALPH W. DANKLEFSON'S 'NAVY I REMEMBER'......"GINGLES WAS FAMOUS THROUGHOUT THE NAVY FOR HIS COOKING AND MEAL PLANNING" AND"GINGLES WAS MARRIED TO A RICH CHINESE WOMAN. WHEN HE RETIRED FROM THE NAVY,THEY OPENED A RESTUARANT IN KALOON(SIC),CHINA, ACROSS THE BAY FROM HONG KONG.THE RESTUARANT WAS CALLED 'GINGLES' AND IT BECAME FAMOUS.SOME YEARS LATER I READ AN ARTICLE ABOUT IT IN 'LIFE' MAGAZINE."

    STRANGELY, THE ARTICLE IS NOT DATED, BUT APPEARS TO COVER A PERIOD BETWEEN 1920 AND 1930.

    AN OLD CHINA HAND ALSO INFORMED ME THAT GINGLES WAS A VERY GOOD FRIEND OF JAMES 'EARTHQUAKE MCGOON' MCGOVERN, A LARGER THAN LIFE FIGURE IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE. MCGOVERN WAS A FIGHTER ACE WHO FLEW WITH CHENNAULT'S 'FLYING TIGERS' IN CHINA, AGAINST THE JAPANESE. AFTER THE WAR HE JOINED-UP WITH CHENNAULT ONCE AGAIN IN THE NEWLY FORMED 'CIVIL AIR TRANSPORT' AND WAS SHOT DOWN AND KILLED AT DEIN BEIN PHO, VIETNAM IN 1954, THE DAY BEFORE THE FRENCH SURRENDERED.

   IF YOU ENTER 'EARTHQUAKE MCGOVERN' IN GOOGLE YOU WILL GET SOME VERY INTERESTING READING.                                                                                GINGLES AND MCGOVERN TOGETHER MUST HAVE BEEN A FORMIDABLE SIGHT, THEY WERE BOTH VERY LARGE FELLOWS!! 

   INFORMATION IS STILL VERY SPARSE. RECOVERING THAT ARTICLE FROM THE 'LIFE' MAGAZINE WOULD HELP, BUT I CAN'T ACCESS IT. 

No Life Magazine, but Google Books has a few hits for "Gingles" and "Hong Kong" that you might be interested in, including one book with a caricature of the man from the prison camp years.

Tony Banham's site only records one person surnamed Gingles in Hong Kong: E.F. Gingles, a US citizen listed as interned at the Kowloon Hotel on 18th Jan 1942.

Are they the same initials as the Mr Gingles that ran the restaurant after the war? If not, that could be his brother, if yes then maybe the tale about the brother is just a story?

MrB

Frank Baillie's webpage talks about visiting the bar during his service in China in 1948-49:

We visited Jingles’ Bar on Kowloon Island where I ordered a stout, not knowing what the blazes it was.  I didn't much like it.  Jingles was a Navy Chief Cook who retired in Hong Kong. He went out to celebrate his prospective return to CONUS (continental limits of the United States) only to wake up the next morning as a bar owner.

Don't know if it is a coincidence or not but there was a Gingles's Cafe operating on Hong Kong Island prior to WWII.

The Nov 4, 1940 copy of the Hong Kong Telegraph reported that E. R. ('Red') Sammons, manager of Gingle's Cafe on Gloucester Road had been called up by the United States Naval Reserve for military service. From what has been gleaned, there were other American owners of cafes (bars) in Wanchai that were also called up during that period. One was Arthur P ('Red') Thomson, manager of the London Cafe on Lockhart Rd who went on to serve as ship's cook.

Seems like it's the same man. Gwen Dew mentions him in 'Prisoner of the Japs'. It's part of her description of 'The American Club', the nickname for one of the American-occupied buildings in the Stanley Internment Camp:

Food-preparation was immediately taken over by Gingles, an ex-navy man who had restaurants in Hong Kong for years. Because food was his hobby and he was cooking for such a small number, he could get better results with the rice, and pull tricks with the small amount of extras that were issued.

He was one of around 40 Americans that weren't repatriated on the Asama Maru, which left Stanley on 29th June 1942. (That is when Gwen Dew and most of the other Americans in Stanley Camp were able to leave).

His loss is another's gain, as he gets several mentions in the Maryknoll Diary. Reports of life in the Stanley camp repeatedly mention everyone's fixation on food, so his cooking skills were especially valued. Here are their entries for July 1942.

2 — Moving all day and getting settled, even though we have few possessions, leaves us pretty tired at night. [...] We find that we will have the use of the two small kitchens on the top floor, one being for all the Americans and the other for the use of our Sisters and us, the large Camp kitchen in the garage below,being turned over to the British. [...]

Father Meyer turns the cooking job over to Mr. Gingles. Formerly, Mr. Gingles, a retired American Navy man, had a number of restaurants in Hong Kong and a hotel in Kowloon, and while in Camp he did the cooking for the group of Americans in the American Club building. His fame as a cook spread through the Camp and now that he is living with us, he has kindly consented to do the work again. Incidentally, everybody liked Father Meyer's meals.

3—Under the new hotel management, our meal hours undergo somewhat of a change. We Maryknollers (when we have the wherewithal) have coffee, bread and cereal about 8 a.m., then Mr. Gingies gives us tiffin at 12 and dinner follows as usual at 5. Having heard a lot of our new chef's abilities, we naturally looked forward to something different, and for our first tiffin, we were not disappointed. While we had only rice and a thick soup, the soup was chicken, and very delicious. It seems there must be some community stores still extant, hence this chicken soup. For supper, he gave us fried rice and a little pork. At the present time, for 41 people, we get from 9 to 11 pounds of meat, bones and fat included, mostly beef, and probably water buffalo at that. Our present issue of green vegetables consists of a few sweet potatoes, some very poor, wormy water spinach and chives, which Mr. Gingies frowns upon and usually throws away as unfit for human consumption.

4—Rain ushered in the Fourth of July and we did not celebrate. Tiffin, again rice and a thick tomato soup (the latter not from the Japanese!) However, we had a very good supper, the Sisters adding a cake, and Father Troesch some cocoa. Mr. Gingies' kitchen is a model of cleanliness and order, and everything is absolutely shipshape. No one is allowed in the galley and he takes great pride in his work. It is easily seen he has had Navy training. His clarion call for meals is: "Come and get it or I'll throw it on the deck!" and that brings us all running with our plates and cups.

The next few days' entries continue to marvel at the quality and quantity of food that Gingles is serving. Then perhaps they get used to it, as we don't hear any more about him until August 4 1942, where he receives some good news:

4 — St. Dominic's Day. Good news—for some: the four Americans, Mr. Gingles, Dr. Molthen, Mr. Salmon and Miss Dorrer, are to leave Camp tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. [...] We naturally regret losing our genial and efficient cook, but we rejoice with him in his good fortune. We are also sorry to lose Dr. Molthen, that genial friend of all Maryknollers.

On September 12, the diary notes that all Maryknollers were able to leave the Stanley camp, and that they moved to Bethany. In October's section Gingles gets another mention: During our stay at Bethany we had a number of visitors — [...] also a few laymen, friends of Camp days, among whom was our genial chef, Mr. Gingles, with his side-kick, Dr. Molthen.

That's the last mention of him in the Maryknoll Diary. At that point it seems he is able to move about Hong Kong. Was he able to stay out of the camp, and even leave Hong Kong before the end of the war?

Turning to the book 'Hong Kong internment, 1942 to 1945', a cartoon of Gingles in the camp appears on page 80. It also gives us his full name, Edward Francis Gingles, confirming it's the same man mentioned above in Tony Banham's book. Maybe searching on his full name will help turn up some more information. Another day's job...

His name first appears in Hong Kong in the late 1930s. E. F. Gingles was the propreitor of the Palace Hotel in Kowloon and resided on the premises. The Palace Hotel used to be located on Cameron Rd, TST. I am not sure if that was the same address in 1941.

Here's some more about Ralph W. Danklefsen's memoirs that Richard mentioned above. Danklefsen is describing a visit to Cavite in the Philippines, and notes that prohibition had recently been repealed. That happened in Dec 1933, so he's probably writing about a visit in 1934:

We were scheduled for a navy yard overhaul in the Cavite Navy Yard. Cavite is in the Bay about twelve miles from Manila. There was a radio station with three high towers, a torpedo station, an ammunition dump, and the navy yard.

We entered the yard a couple of days before Thanksgiving. As soon as we were tied up, the Filipino yard workmen started working on the ship. The crew was moved to the receiving barracks and we ate in the mess hall. The food was nothing like on the Pope. The Chief Commissary Steward named Gingles was in charge. He was the CCS on the Black Hawk when I was on her. Gingles was famous throughout the Navy for his cooking and meal planning.

All the cooks that ever worked for him were told they had two strikes against them before they started—they dare not make the third.

Gingles was married to a rich Chinese woman. When he retired from the Navy, they opened a restaurant in Kaloon, China, across the Bay from Hong Kong. The restaurant was called GINGLES, and it became famous. Some years later, I read an article about it in Life magazine.

Following the thread, it begs the question of whatever happened to Mr Gingles or his family after the 50's as the restuarant seemed to have closed down.

Here's a clipping from the Thursday, June 23 1960 edition of China Mail newspaper, mentioning that he died on Monday June 20th, aged 75.

EF Gingles funeral

I got the approximate date from a search on Google News, which looks like it will be a useful tool in future. The US publications give his age as 77, and spell his surname as Gingle instead of Gingles.

Gingles gets a mention in one of the histories of 'Earthquake McGoon', Gingles' friend mentioned above:

Stories about [McGoon's] adventures abound. At one point, his C-46 had to make a forced landing and he was captured by the Communists. They held him for six months but, according to the story, they released him when they could no longer afford to feed him. Upon his return to the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong, a much thinner McGoon immediately made for Nathan Road and his favorite watering hole, E. T. Gingle's cafe, where he indulged himself in his favored dish, heavily buttered lima beans. "Pop" Gingle was a retired Navy chief, an Old China Hand, who had retired to the Orient and established a restaurant and saloon renowned for its chili and its friendliness to expatriate pilots. Gingle may have been the person who gave McGovern his nickname and during McGoon's captivity, had tried to ransom him.

We've also been sent this un-dated photo by reader IDJ.

Pop Gingles

Is it Gingles in the center of the photo? It also shows Sammons, who has already been mentioned above as "manager of Gingle's Cafe" in 1940, and again as one of the people attending Gingles' funeral in 1960.

From this clipping from NOV 1940 of the Liqour Licencing Board, Gingles and Tkachenkos were around prior to the Japanese Occupation. Other establishments mentioned will ring a bell with readers with fonder and

1940 Liquour Establishments
 longer memories! 

Interesting to see the 'Nagasaki Joe' restaurant at the bottom of that clipping....perhaps an inspriration for Martin Booth given that the crazy war vet at the fourseas was nicknamed Nagasaki Jim - later to be revisited in Booth's novel Hiroshima Joe.

The Google / Life site turns up 46 photos of Gingles and his bar.

It looks like Gingles had quite an operation - a bar/restaurant and a farm - with many Life "celeb" pictures to boot. A search on PRO shows that "Gingles Ltd." started business in June 1941 and was closed in August 1962.  (Voluntary Liquidation of Company Agencies Files) That would be 2 years after Gingles passed away.

 

It looks as though he was born with the surname Gingle, though in later life was known to everyone as Gingles.

I found another reference to him in the US National Archives. He's listed under the name 'Edward F Gingle' in the 'World War II Prisoners of War Data File ', and recorded as being in the Stanley camp. It says his wife Susan, and daughter Mabel were also in the camp.

On the Stanley camp group, Brian Edgar wrote:

Gingles is in the group featured in the first photo of this album: http://www.new.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=216544&l=133b2da0b9&id=727541399

Otherwise, I'm afraid I can't contribute much of historical value - my father sometimes spoke about him, usually to praise his ability to hold his alchohol. I think he claimed Gingles could drink a crate of beer before breakfast, but I'm sure either my memory is faulty or my father's was!

I also seem to remember there's a reference to Gingles' 'restaurant' being popular with soldiers in, I think, Tim Carew's book on the fall of Hong Kong.

From that suggestion, a Google Book Search for Gingles Hong Kong turns up some interesting snippets of information.

A couple more notes confirming the information above.

Carl T Smith's 'Wanchai: In Search of an Identity' has the paragraph:

In 1941, just before the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong there were eleven liquor licences issued for establishments in Wanchai. On Lockhart Road were the Hong Kong Bowling Alleys, the Embassy Bar, the London Cafe, and the Wanchai Beer Hall (Japanese); on Gloucester Road were located the Neptune Bar, Gingle's Cafe, the Luk Kwok Hotel, and the Nagasaki Joe Hotel; on Hennessy Road was the Black Dog, and on Hau Fung Lane off upper Ship Street there were two Japanese Hotels.

A search for 'gingle' in HKGRO returns three results, the Juror lists for 1938, 1939, and 1940. In each list he appears in the 'Common Jurors' section:

  • Name in full: Gingle, Edward Francis
  • Occupation: Proprietor, Palace Hotel
  • Address: On premises.

May 24, 1954 issue, showing him leaving the memorial service for McGovern.

The book Hostage to Fortune an autobiography by the well known author and aviator Ernest K Gann describes his encounter late in the life of Mr Gingles (pages 379-394). It describes how he was kept waiting at Gingles restaurant for his meeting with Gingles looked over by an ex-Marine barman with snake tattoos inscribed down his arms.  It suggests that later Gingles forcibly tells Gann by phone to get out of town and a ticket in Gann’s name is already at the airport for the next days Pan American flight.

Gann ignores Gingles “get out of town” threat and remains in Hong Kong looking for inspiration for a new novel that evolves into the book titled Soldier of Fortune, and later a film of the same name starring Clark Gable and Susan Hayward.

Such was the force in the threat, during the rest of his visit Gann kept company with various bodyguards.

Gann also relates how others informed him that Gingles was the best source for US Navy Intelligence on the China coast, and that he was one of the well known agents through whom Chinese in America could send funds to relatives in mainland China. It was alleged that by the time Gingles had taken his cut very little was left for the relatives.

Part of the film Soldier of Fortune is set in and around the Peninsula hotel lobby where it appears Clark Gable took the place to heart by spending too much time drinking with lobby habitué John “Jock” Prosser-Inglis who held court at table number 44. He lived in the Pen for 23 years. Gable ended up paying more attention to table 44 than the movie and the producer had to ban him from it until filming had finished.

However, Susan Hayward apparently never visited Hong Kong due to family problems at the time as so all her scenes were shot in a studio in the USA with a replica of the lobby and entrance.

The book Soldier of Fortune has a chapter titled “Lobby Life” describing the social life of the Peninsula lobby at that time late in the 1950-early 60s.

IDJ

Been looking at the licensing board sessions in the Daily Press dated 8 Nov 1939 and in the government archves for November 1940-1941.

From the numbering system of houses on Gloucester Rd, what is interesting is that Gingles Restaurant was located on Nos 64-65 between Nagaski Joe's (62-63 Gloucester Rd) and Luk Kwok Hotel (67-77 Gloucester Rd).

In 1940, my guess is that the Gingle's Restaurant was located on the south-east junction of Gloucester and Luard Roads whereas Nagasaki Joe's was situated on the opposite and western side of the road.

E. F. Gingle was also the proprietor of the Palace Hotel located on 43-44 Haiphong Road, Kowloon prior to WWII. Between 1940-1941, a 'new' restraunt called the Gingle's Annexe appeared to operate on the G/F at 70 Nathan Rd at the same address as the one after WWII.

Received via email: 1940 Palace Hotel Calling Card

1940 Palace Hotel Business Card

I've just posted some more pictures of Gingles on my blog.

Thanks for this excellent site, David.

Brian thanks for the extra photos, and glad to hear you enjoy the site.

This site has a photo of Gingle's 'Club' and of a mock certificate he issued attesting to the holder's abilitity to navigate the seas of alcohol:

http://uss-la-ca135.org/40/1940ruffin.html

I've just written a piece focused on Gingle's history during the war years:

http://brianedgar.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/edward-gingle-at-war/

That's a good read - thanks Brian!

This proves "U" never work

The Rene Lim mentioned in the blog is Rene Lym-Robertson who lives in California and has visited Hong Kong in recent years. About 3 or 4 years ago she was instantly recognised by the staff when she entered the Peninsula. She also has tales to tell of being kissed by Clark Gable during the production of the film Soldier of Fortune.

Seen here :-

Fascinating reading thanks to all contributors. My memory of Gingles is pretty slim but I do remember the red and white checker table cloths and the ad offering a 32 oz steak (maybe it was bigger) and if you could eat the whole thing there would be no charge. Interesting history.

Here's an excerpt from an article called "Hong Kong hangs on" in the February 1954 issue of the National Geographic Magazine:

Perhaps my biggest gustatory thrill came, however, when we discovered in Kowloon an eating place run by a retired chief petty officer of Uncle Sam's Navy. Its menu read like any American diner's, and a chrome and neon jukebox played tunes from tin-pan alley. After five months in the Far East, I never tasted anything better than the hamburger and milkshake I ordered there for lunch one day.

No names are mentioned, but surely this must be Gingles!

Gloucester Road

1946 Gingles Cafe, Wanchai