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

ETC Werner on Lin Yutang’s Taipei Bookshelves

Posted: November 29th, 2016 | No Comments »

Back in 2010 I visited Lin Yutang’s house in Taipei, which is now a museum. I blogged about his Taipei house and noted that ETC Werner’s 1922 classic Myths and Legends of China was on his bookshelf. But, in 2010, I didn’t have a camera phone so I never got a chance to snap it. Recently the excellent writer on matters Chinese Michael Meyer visited the house and he did have a camera phone and got a shot of the book proudly displayed on Lin’s shelves.

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Plastic Surgery in Shanghai, 1937 – Mouth Widening and Ear Contouring

Posted: November 28th, 2016 | No Comments »

The other day I came across two stories on plastic surgery in Shanghai. One just dropped on to my phone courtesy of some newsfeed I don’t want but can’t seem to delete. It was the all-too-familiar Shanghainese love plastic surgery story that anyone interested in China for anything longer than a year or two must be bored with. Then, browsing the archives I came across this story from August 1937 on the vogue for plastic surgery in…Shanghai.

Now some years back I co-wrote a book on obesity in contemporary China, Fat China. In that book is a chapter on extreme dieting, gastric banding, supposed slimming pills and plastic surgery, covering everything from eyes, chins and height to liposuction. But in that research I have to admit I never came across anything about mouth widening and wide mouths being linked to career success??? But apparently that, and having the right contour to your ear, was the key to prosperity!!

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China Rhyming on Instagram – Come & Take a Look

Posted: November 27th, 2016 | No Comments »

Just to let anyone who might be interested know, if you don’t already, that I am uploading a lot of old China photographs, illustrations and drawings to instagram now at oldshanghaipaul – I usually put a few up a day….

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The Avenue Eddy Tram Returns

Posted: November 26th, 2016 | No Comments »

That’s Shanghai tells me that there is to be a new tram running the length of Yan’an Road (the old Avenue Edward VII, or the Avenue Eddy) – the former border between the International Settlement and Frenchtown. Great, but nothing new – a tram always ran along the Avenue Eddy.

J.G. Ballard recalled the Avenue Eddy tram in his novel Empire of the Sun as Jim rides through town on his bicycle as the Japanese encirclement of the foreign concessions tightens:

‘Pedaling fiercely, Jim followed a heavily laden tram that clanked along the Avenue Edward VII. Morose Chinese clung to its sides, and a cop-headed youth in a black mandarin suit spat at Jim, then leaped down and ran into the crowd, nervous that even this small act would set off a train of retribution.’

As well as along Avenue Edward VII Route 8 from the Garden Bridge along the Bund and crossing Nanking Road then crossed the Avenue Eddy whereupon any passengers continuing on their journey were required to buy a new ticket for travel in the French Concession. On the image below you can clearly see the tramlines on the Avenue Eddy…

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and here’s the tram stop on the Bund, just before the tram turned up the Avenue Eddy…

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My Black Friday Christmas Shopping Message to You All – Do Not Buy Nazi-Made Toys!

Posted: November 25th, 2016 | No Comments »

Remember….think about what you’re buying – protest outside a department store in Manhattan, 1938…..

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Charles Forrest Cress – A Humble Apology

Posted: November 24th, 2016 | No Comments »

Yesterday I posted on the repatriation from civilian internment in Manila of the former Shanghai-based correspondent Bernard Covit. It was remiss of me not to mention the other gentleman repatriated on the Gripsholm with Covit and featured in the newspaper story, Charles Forrest Cress. I humbly apologise for the omission. 

Charles Forrest Cress was executive manager, Far Eastern Area, Export Division, of Chrysler (see this post on Chrysler’s ads in 1930s/1940s China) and based, I believe in China and Manila. He was in China for a long time I believe, since his early 20s. The Ohio State University Monthly, in a 1920 edition, has note remarking on Mr Cress ‘returning’ to China.

After returning to the United States in 1944 Mr Cress was active on behalf of Free China. He certainly introduced guest speakers from the Chinese government (KMT), visiting Michigan from Chungking on tours to rally continued support from America for China.

I believe Charles Forrest Cress lived in Los Altos, California and died in 1996 at 104!

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Bernard Covit Survives Japanese-occupied Shanghai and Manila to Make it Home

Posted: November 23rd, 2016 | No Comments »

Referring back to a post some weeks ago detailing an inside report on life in Japanese occupied Shanghai that appeared in Liberty magazine in January 1944 (click here). The author was Bernard (sometimes Bernhard, or just Bert) Covit (1907-1978), Brooklyn-born and a former newspaperman with the New York Post who had witnessed the bombing at the Great World Amusement Palace in Shanghai on Bloody Saturday August 14th 1937. He moved on to the AP Bureau in Manila and ended up in several Japanese-run Civilian Internment Camps in the Philippines. Eventually he made it onto the Gripsholm evacuation ship back to America, arriving to meet the media as you can see below.

Covit went on to remain involved in Asian affairs – editing several books on the South Seas and Tahiti. After the war I think he also worked in radio with WPIX, New York, and the Mutual Broadcasting System.

(PS: his name is spelled with two t’s in the article below but I believe he spelt it with just one)

 

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George Chinnery’s Final London Studio Before He Sailed East, 1802

Posted: November 22nd, 2016 | No Comments »

I was looking through some George Chinnery prints the other day – Chinnery of course being by far the best western painter to have recorded Macao, Hong Kong and the Canton Factories in the early to mid-1800s, prior to photography. I won’t go on as I’m sure Chinnery needs no introduction to regular readers of this blog. However, I read that prior to leaving England (after a spell in Dublin) for India and eventually Macao and the Far East, Chinnery’s London studio was at 20 Lower Brook Street. That address is now simply 20 Brook Street in Mayfair, just of New bond Street. Here is it today, though I suspect the top floor is a more recent addition and probably wasn’t there when Chinnery was there around 1802. It was a handy location anyway being close to the Royal Academy on Piccadilly where Chinnery, like his peer Turner, was submitting portraits for exhibition.

20 Brook Street (obviously the white building) was completed around 1737, making it early Georgian and not untypical of what was being constructed across the Mayfair district. The building is safely listed with English Heritage, who support my theory about the top floor claiming that work was done to alter the property in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The shop frontage on the ground floor only dates from the late 1960s. Since its construction the property had an artistic flavour – No.20 was the residence of the painter Sir William Beechey between 1787-88.

 

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