“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

The Russian Consulate – Tientsin, 1912

Posted: August 16th, 2017 | No Comments »

Russia gave up its treaty port rights in Tientsin (Tianjin) after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in 1920 having had a concession in the city since 1867. This is the Russian Consulate building in 1912 (it was built in 1904).

I believe the building still stands, just across the completely bizarre faux European Daguangming Bridge.

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Parasols in Mandalay, 1934

Posted: August 15th, 2017 | No Comments »

I haven’t posted a parasol picture for a while – in the past we’ve had parasols in the silent movies, parasols on the French Riviera, down at Bournemouth, at the Folie Bergere, in the lovely hands of Adele Astaire, covering Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald from the French sun and ion a saucy French postcard from the nineteenth century (the search box to your right will offer up any of those goodies).

Today I thought a shot of Kay Francis from the 1934 movie directed by Michael Curtiz, Mandalay – it’s got just about everything you could want in a story – a nightclub, an abandoned White Russian beauty Francis), a steamer to the tropics and a villain. It looks great (and is on Youtube here) but was sadly not Rangoon and Mandalay but the Warner Bros lot in Burbank and the San Jaoquin River for the steamer shots.

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Bloody Saturday: Shanghai’s Darkest Day – the Video

Posted: August 14th, 2017 | No Comments »

As it is the week my Penguin China Special is released and the 80th anniversary of Bloody Saturday, a short video from Penguin….

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Bloody Saturday – August 14 1937

Posted: August 14th, 2017 | No Comments »

80 years…

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Limited Edition Walking Tour Preview: Bloody Saturday – September 17 2017

Posted: August 14th, 2017 | No Comments »

After origanising any number of walks in Beijing based around my book Midnight in Peking the good people at Bespoke Shanghai are organising a limited edition walk based on my Penguin China Special Bloody Saturday. The book recreates August 14 1937, the day bombs fell on the International Settlement and Frenchtown as death and war came to Shanghai. The walk will hopefully reveal a side to Shanghai’s history and some of its best known landmarks that most people simply walk past without thinking about. Here’s the details….

Bestselling author Paul French (Midnight In Peking) has just released his latest book, Bloody Saturday, and Bespoke is proud to be partnering with him and Penguin Books on a one-off September walking tour recounting this dark day in Shanghai’s history. Just to make it even more exciting, the tour will be led by leading Shanghai history expert Peter Hibbard.

Published this week as a ‘Penguin Special’, Bloody Saturday makes use of rich source material to retell the tragic events of August 14th, 1937. It was on this day that Chinese fighter planes accidentally dropped bombs on their own city. One fell on the busy intersection of Nanking Road and the Bund, while two more landed just outside the crowded Great World building in the French Concession, leaving thousands dead or injured in what was, at the time, the worst aerial bombardment the world had ever seen.

Leading this Limited Edition walking tour on the morning of Sunday, September 17th is none other than legendary historian and writer Peter Hibbard (MBE). Now based in the UK, Hibbard is a former President of the Royal Asiatic Society and has authored numerous books and articles on concession-era Shanghai.

He’s making a fleeting stop in the city so Bespoke snapped him up to help retell the events of that day. Stay tuned for more information coming next week or email info@bespoke-shanghai.com sooner if you’re as excited as we are.

This Limited Edition Public Walking Tour will take place on Sunday, September 17th at 10am. Tickets cost 350RMB per person and will be on sale from Tuesday, August 15th. Want to get to the front of the line? Send us an email with the title ‘Bloody Saturday Walking Tour’ and we’ll provide you with priority booking access.

see https://www.bespoketravelcompany.com/urbanedit/limited-edition-tour-preview-bloody-saturday/

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Bloody Saturday 80th Anniversary – The Shrapnel Swing

Posted: August 13th, 2017 | No Comments »

And, just in case after yesterday’s post on Terese Rudolph’s Bloody Saturday experiences, you were wondering what the “Shrapnel Swing” looked like – here’s an idea…

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Bloody Saturday 80th Anniversary – The Tale of Terese Rudolph

Posted: August 12th, 2017 | No Comments »

Here’s a tale from Shanghai’s Bloody Saturday – August 14 1937 – that didn’t make it into my new Penguin China Special (forgive me, you only get 20,000 words with a Special) – Terese Rudolph…

Terese Rudolph was a dancer, showgirl and world traveller. In 1937 she was working in Shanghai, dancing in nightclubs – she was a trained ballerina, tap dancer and all round entertainer originally from Chicago. she was working in the Cathay around the time the bombs fell outside the hotel in August 1937 (“Bloody Saturday”) and her mother was worried enough to inquire after her – thereby getting her picture in the paper Stateside. She was OK and carried on dancing in Shanghai for a while…but there’s more to Terese than just August 1937 in Shanghai….

So here’s her story – Terese was born in 1913 in Budapest and came to America with her family when she was twelve years old. they settled in Chicago.She studied dance with Laurent Novikowf, who had once partnered Anna Pavlova. Apparently she never lost her Hungarian accent. At 17, she became a ballerina with the Chicago Civic Opera Company. In the early 1930s she appeared in various cabarets, nightclubs and reviews in the US and Canada as a “premiere danseuse” or “Hungarian Dancer” act. She was a smash all across the country – ballet, traditional Hungarian folk dancing and a little acrobatics thrown in for entertainment.

Somehow she travelled out to Shanghai and got a gig as the feature act at the Cathay Hotel. Her mum must have been wise to show business. She told the press in August 1937 she was concerned for her 21-year-old daughter in war-torn Shanghai – touching; Terese was over 24 by then. Here she is in her Cathay show…

When the bombs fell on the Cathay apparently Terese had hopped a steamer to Manila. But when she got there the city was paralysed by an earthquake so she hopped another steamer and sailed for Hong Kong – arriving right in the middle of a cholera epidemic. so she got a boat back to Shanghai. So she decided to use her last few dollars to get a ticket home to America. first all her trunks were left on the Bund and then she was left her ride home, the President Hoover, was accidentally strafed and bombed by the Chinese air force, though thankfully wasn’t sunk. however, one of her shapely dancers legs was scratched by glass from a smashed porthole. She got back to San Francisco on September 14th finally, took a train to Chicago and went straight to her mother’s house (also called Terese) on East 61st Street. I think we can all agree though that despite war, bombs, earthquakes, cholera and three weeks at sea Terese looked fantastic when she hit the dock at San Fran…and still with a sense of humour – Terese told the newsboys she’d invented a new dance in Shanghai, the “Shrapnel Swing”.

After Shanghai Terese was soon back in the swing dancing again in American nightclubs in 1938 and up till the start of WW2. Terese (who I think was known as “Teri” to her friends) joined the American United Service Organizations entertaining the troops during WW2. She appeared in America alongside an act called the Gloria Lee Girls. She was in Paris for the city’s liberation.

After the war she returned to America. In 1947 she appeared at the Copacabana in Miami Beach and danced in a review at the Rio Cabana Club in Chicago in 1947, where Billboard magazine noted her as the star of the show.  She then went to run the American Army owned Casa Carioca in Garmisch, Germany, around 1949. The Casa Carioca had an ice skating rink attached and she helped train the ice skaters in dance to improve their shows (though she didn’t skate herself); the skaters were from all over – America, Scotland, Germany. Terese stayed in Garmisch till 1971. Terese Rudolph died of a heart attack at 92 in 2005.

 

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Bloody Saturday 80th Anniversary – Le Poste Mallet

Posted: August 11th, 2017 | No Comments »

I wanted to note the Poste Mallet station of the Frenchtown police, the Gard Municipal. It was the station from where the first detachments of Frenchtown police headed out to deal with the carnage from the second raft of bombs to fall on the concessions on Bloody Saturday – those outside the Great World Amusement Palace close by. The Mallet Police Station (technically at 174 Jinling Lu, but set back from the street itself) was built in 1936, designed by the noted architects Leonard and Veysseyre (see Spencer Dodington’s recent book on Veysseyre – Shanghai’s Art-Deco Master) , on the site of the old French Municipal Council (Hôtel Municipal) building (built 1863-4), pulled down in 1935. You can see the french tricolour flying from the top of the building and the statue in front, on the parade ground, is of Admiral Auguste Léopold Protet (1808-1862), who was killed in Shanghai during the Taiping Rebellion.

The building still exists, or at least last time I looked (it’s Shanghai, so you never know) and was one busy station on August 14, 1937…

The old French Municipal Building that was pulled down in 1935 to make way for Poste Mallet,

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