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

Everyday Old Shanghai – a dollar for your cushion

Posted: October 5th, 2017 | No Comments »

An old Shanghai anecdote I came across the other day that I didn’t know previously. It’s from Danish journalist Karl Eskelund’s memoir of his trip back to China in 1957, The Red Mandarins (1959). Eskelund’s an interesting character himself – a journalist in China in the 1930s, married a Chinese woman, his father had been the King of Siam’s dentist.

Anyway, here’s the anecdote – Eskelund is recalling an incident on the Shanghai Bund around 1936. He got into an altercation with a Chinese rickshaw puller over the fare. A small matter but the inevitable crowd of curious onlookers gathered round blocking the street. A Sikh Shanghai Municipal Policeman came over to sort out the incident. Of course he had little interest in the Chinese puller’s side of the argument – even though Eskelund thought the puller’s argument was valid in hindsight. The policeman told the puller to stop arguing and go about his business or he’d ‘confiscate your cushion’, meaning  the cushion the rickshawmen provided the passenger to give their rear end some comfort on the journey. Without it nobody would hire their rickshaw.

Eskelund recalls that this was the usual punishment for a rickshaw puller and they would then have to go to the police station to redeem their confiscated cushion for the price of a dollar (Chinese). Obviously a major hassle and so to be avoided. How much the SMP made out of this system I’ve no idea!

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Tom Petty and a Chinese Parasol

Posted: October 4th, 2017 | No Comments »

Regular readers will know I regularly feature pictures of Chinese parasols in various setting (just put parasol in the search engine to your right). Here, for reasons I know not, is Tom Petty (1950-2017) with a parasol…

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Peking’s Anti-Japanese Signage, 1934

Posted: October 1st, 2017 | No Comments »

The New Journal of Wilmington, Delaware reports the following sign on a gate by the Forbidden City in September 1934….

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

The Sad Death of a Marine in Peking, 1933

Posted: September 30th, 2017 | No Comments »

Sergeant Thomas Wilson, 35 years old, of the United States Marine Crops was rotated to Peking in the summer of 1933 to join the Legation Guard protecting the American Consulate in the city. On September 24th he killed himself with his shotgun in Legation Guard Barracks (below) just adjacent to the consulate compound (which you can still walk across today). The suicide caused chaos momentarily in the compound as it was close to the residence of the US Minister to China Nelson T Johnson.

Wilson, from Birmingham, Alabama, had previously served with the Marines in Nicaragua, left no suicide note. His wife Gladys was left in shock.

 

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Made in North Korea: Graphics From Everyday Life in the DPRK

Posted: September 29th, 2017 | No Comments »

Lovely to see Nick Bonner and Simon Cockerell keeping themselves busy with the beautiful Made in North Korea: Graphics From Everyday Life in the DPRK – recommended for everyone’s coffee table immediately….

Made in North Korea uncovers the fascinating and surprisingly beautiful graphic culture of North Korea – from packaging to hotel brochures, luggage tags to tickets for the world-famous mass games. From his base in Beijing, Bonner has been running tours into North Korea for over twenty years, and along the way collecting graphic ephemera. He has amassed thousands of items that, as a collection, provide an extraordinary and rare insight into North Korea’s state-controlled graphic output, and the lives of ordinary North Koreans.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

The Oriole’s Song: An American Girlhood in Wartime China

Posted: September 28th, 2017 | No Comments »

Recently the enterprising chaps at Taiwan’s Camphor Press (producers of great hard copy and e-book reprints) bought Eastbridge Books, a specialist Asian publisher. They’re reviving the house and reissuing titles as e-books. Including BJ Elder’s The Oriole’s Song: An American Girlhood in Wartime China….

The Oriole’s Song is a love story — love of family, of entwined cultures, of life itself — during and after the turmoil of war. This beautiful recollection of an American girlhood in China during World War II is a continual delight with large insights and small moments made exqusite by delicate prose. On May 17, 1951, Dwight Rugh — a Yale-in-China representative for twenty years and one of the last Americans remaining in China after the Communist Revolution — was taken from his home in Changsha to a mass rally where he was denounced as an imperialist spy. Twenty-three years later, his daughter was one of the first Americans to enter China after it reopened to the West. Despite the fact that the Cultural Revolution was in full sway, she visited the site of her father’s “trial” and met with some of his friends and colleagues who had been compelled to participate in the proceedings. In this evocative and beautifully written memoir, BJ Elder tells the remarkable story of her family and what it was like for her, an only child, to grow up in China during the Second World War. Born in Hunan, hers was a childhood spent in two languages and “between two names.” In a remote river town, she shares the terrors and enthusiasms of her Chinese friends, hides from Japanese bombs, struggles over Chinese calligraphy, and spends enchanted summers in a hidden valley. Yet she thinks of America as “home.” When the family goes home to the United States, however, she finds herself drawn back to the country of her birth. This is an account of how one person has tried to make sense of the past, of being formed by two cultures yet never completely belonging to either, of seeing the world from one point of view, but feeling the presence of another, like print coming through from the other side of the page. In the end, two decades after the Cultural Revolution, she takes us “home” again to a much more open China, where she comes to terms with the past and with her place between the two worlds she has known.

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Hong Kong Exhibition – The Mapping of Asia – till October 28th

Posted: September 27th, 2017 | No Comments »
The Mapping of Asia

A collection of fine antique maps from 16th to 20th century

including a group of city plans and nautical charts

Geographical Section General Staff, Hong Kong and Part of the Leased Territory (1913) 1920

The exhibition continues until 28th October 2017
Wattis Fine Art Gallery
20 Hollywood Road, 2/F, Central, Hong Kong
Tel. +852 2524 5302 E-mail. info@wattis.com.hk
www.wattis.com.hk
Gallery open: Monday – Saturday 11am – 6pm
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Carl Crow, China and US Armed Forces Editions

Posted: September 26th, 2017 | No Comments »

This article popped on Atlas Obscura up recently on the history of the US Armed Forces edition paperbacks distributed to military personnel during WW2 between 1943-1946. It’s an amazing story and worth a read…

I should also mention that Carl Crow’s Four Hundred Million Customers was selected as a US Armed Forces edition and specifically issued to all the GIs and sailors that liberated Shanghai and were stationed there for several years afterwards rebuilding the city, country and running the War Crimes Tribunals.

As far as I know Crow’s was the only China-related title in the series apart Alice Tisdale Hobart’s 1933 Oil for the Lamps of China

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter