Identifier

MSS.2.45

Publication Date

10-29-1918

Document Type

Letter

Transcription

Hotel de la Paix
Tientsin
29 October, 1918

Dearest Dada:

Here I am in Tientsin. And having
such a whopping good time. As you know, my sister
Mrs. Kung and her family came up a month ago
to go to Shansi, but Mr. Kung has some business here
that needed and needs his presence here: so they
stayed on. Then my brother came up on business
three weeks ago, & stayed a couple of weeks and
then had to return to Shanghai last week
to attend to some business there. So he stayed in
Shanghai two days, and returned here, and
this second time I came up with him.
Mother never would have let me come were
it not for the fact that I have been
terribly ill, and just then my brother John
also had the influenza and is now home
from school to keep her company.

I have been here four days, and
"have been on the go" every minute since I [page break]
came. Sister has so many friends here
that we are motored, tea, dined, and
theatred every minute of our waking hours.
We never get to bed before 1:30 A.M.

We have Mr. Kung, my sister, the
two children, three servants, our uncle, my
brother and I here all in the hotel. We
have a wing all to ourselves, and can
make any amount of noise without
disturbing anyone. As you see from the
name, this is a French hotel, and the
food is perfectly marvelous! The first three
days, the change of climate was so invig-
orating that I almost stuffed myself to
death - I am getting to be a little more normal
now. I have met some awfully interesting
people, both foreigners and Chinese. One of Mr.
Kung's friends who has a huge place wants
all of us to move over and visit him. But [page break]
of course we would not!

I have been to a Chinese theatre, a
Japanese theatre, an opera, and a
"movie" each night. Tonight we are going
to a "charity affair" after dining with the
Lees. We are going to tea with Miss.
Grimes. Like a nut, I only brought up a
valise; and so I am having some "rush order"
clothes made at one of the French stores.

We expect to leave Tientsin in a
few days, and then shall take in Peking,
and probably Shih-Cha-Tsong and finally
Taku in Shansi, my sister's home. I
shall visit her for only a few days, for
Mother expected me back in a week. She
did not want me to go to Shansi, as that
is a very long trip, and she does not know I
am going. I will wire her when I get there.

The trip from Shanghai to Tienstein is
40 hours on the train. Both my brother and I [page break]
had a state room apiece: so I just sprawled
on my berth, and read most of the time.

It seemed good to see mountains again, for
Shanghai is very flat and monotonous. We
stopped off a couple of hours at Nanking, the
old capital to see the sights. It was very
mountainous and picturesque. We had to cross
the river to get to the other station, and while on
the boat, some beggars came in another little house
boat. They had a long pole and a bag like
the velvet collection box in the church at one
end. It was so unique that I had to give
them something in spite of my convictions.

The land from Tientsin to Shanghai
is well cultivated, and irrigated. There was
not a single lot left to waste except for
the grave-yards. Each family usually has
a plot of land on which are graves and
trees which are supposed to keep the dead
company, and from which the family would not
be willing to part for anything. You remember
about the funereal cypresses in Virgil? Well,
that's the same idea. The plot of land is usually [page break]
oval in shape [co..] [diagram of tree and grave].

Another interesting thing I noticed was that in
the ponds where the water-lilies grow, I saw men
and women in wooden tubs gathering the
lily roots. They reminded me of the story
of "The Water Babies."

Whatever one would & could say against the
Huns, I have to acknowledge that they have
done well in planting trees all along the
railroad tracks. You know, the Germans were
the chief instrument in building this road.

On our way up, we saw a lot of soldiers
both Northern and Southern troops. They seem
on the whole well dressed: but of course they
lack the martial of the foreign troops which
only experience and rigorous discipline could
give them.

The trains are divided into three classes, and
the third class occupants would buy huge
cakes which look hard as bricks at the
various stopping places. I watched one man
eat six of these cakes about the size of this
piece of paper and an inch in the thickness. [page break]
Wouldn't I have died of dyspepsia if I had
taken even one of them?

Tientsin is an interesting place all divided
up into Concessions, the English, the French, the
German, Austrian, Italian, Chinese,
the Japanese etc. Each has its own municipal
force. They have a trolley line here, and you
can ride from one end of town to the
other for three pennies! The city is much
less crowded than Shanghai, the houses are
all spread out. It reminds one of an
overgrown boy whose trousers are having a
hard time to keep up with the lanky legs.
The houses here are of a different type of architecture
from that of the Shanghai houses. For one thing,
they have the Italian air rather than the
American or English. The race course is miles
long and is beautiful.

The rickshaw coolies here are far better
dressed than those in Shanghai, and here
I have not seen a single beggar whereas
in Shanghai, it is full of them. The difference
in dialect between North and South is [page break]
so great that a Southerner and a Northerner
cannot carry on a conversation. But of
course the written language is the same.

I have been practicing my French on
the hotel people. They seem surprised that
I can speak it. The stores here in the French
Concession carry on all their business in
French. My nephew and niece are so cute
that they attract an awful lot of attention.
As my sister never gets up before 11, and
as I am always up by seven, I take
the children out quite a bit. We go to
the bund to watch the ships come in, and
it's lots of fun.

This is such a scatterbrained letter
that I hope you can make sense out
of it. My sister is up, and is calling me
so I must close. With love

Daughter.

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