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

Chinoiserie Porch, Rye, East Sussex

Posted: December 18th, 2016 | No Comments »

Happened to be in the beautiful town of Rye, East Sussex this weekend and noticed this Chinoiserie style porch….

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The Betrayed Ally: China in the Great War

Posted: December 16th, 2016 | No Comments »

The shelf of books on China and the Great War is not yet at groaning but it is decidedly better stacked than it was a few years ago (and a nod to Xu Guoqi for his work prior to the centenary). Of course there is the Penguin China WW1 series available very affordably on kindle (see details here). Now we have Christopher Arnander and Frances Wood with Betrayed Ally to add to the collection…

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The Great War helped China emerge from humiliation and obscurity and take its first tentative steps as a full member of the global community. In 1912 the Qing Dynasty had ended. President Yuan Shikai, who seized power in 1914, offered the British 50,000 troops to recover the German colony in Shandong but this was refused. In 1916 China sent a vast army of labourers to Europe. In 1917 she declared war on Germany despite this effectively making the real enemy Japan an ally. The betrayal came when Japan was awarded the former German colony. This inspired the rise of Chinese nationalism and communism, enflamed by Russia. The scene was set for Japan’s incursions into China and thirty years of bloodshed. One hundred years on, the time is right for this accessible and authoritative account of China’s role in The Great War and assessment of its national and international significance

 

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For no Particular Reason it’s China Rhymings ‘Shanghai in 1924’ Week – #4 Shanghai Mah Jongg Sets America Alight for Christmas 1924

Posted: December 15th, 2016 | No Comments »

Christmas 1924 was the height of the mah jong craze in the USA. A good year for Shanghai manufacturers of set both high-end luxury and low with instructions. One fashionable young lady even took the mah jong craze to her legs with a lovely pair of nylon stockings with mah jong inspired motifs!!

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For no Particular Reason it’s China Rhymings ‘Shanghai in 1924’ Week – #3 The New Bethel Hospital

Posted: December 14th, 2016 | No Comments »

In 1924 the new Bethel Hospital was opened in Shanghai – the hard work of Shi Meiyu and others. Shi (1873-1954) was among the first Chinese women graduates from a U.S. medical school. On return to China, she founded the Bethel, now known as the Shanghai Ninth People’s Hospital (they claim they were founded in 1920, but they weren’t, construction began in 1920 but took four years and so it was 1924 that the hospital opened its doors). The original address was 17 Arsenal Road, near the Kiangnan Arsenal in the south of the city beyond the southern border of the French Concession – that’s now

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For no Particular Reason it’s China Rhymings ‘Shanghai in 1924’ Week – #2 Damn it, Golf’s Cancelled!

Posted: December 13th, 2016 | No Comments »

Warlords battle, skirmish and fight around Shanghai in 1924 – things must have got serious…the golf club’s had to close!!

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For no Particular Reason it’s China Rhymings ‘China in 1924’ Week – #1 Dig From New Orleans to Shanghai

Posted: December 12th, 2016 | No Comments »

I have blogged about the prolific Frank G Carpenter before (here), journalist and compiler of the lovely Carpenter’s World Travels series of books between the 1890s and his death in 1924. Here is Carpenter’s probable last dispatch back to the American newspapers from Shanghai which he predicts will soon rival New York. Interestingly he does suggest digging a deep hole downwards from New Orleans to get to Shanghai!!

Shortly after sending this report Carpenter travelled from Shanghai to Nanking, where he died aged 69.

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John Milton, Pequin and ‘sail driven wheelbarrows’

Posted: December 11th, 2016 | No Comments »

Saw somewhere that John Milton, the poet, author of Paradise Lost and other works, polemicist was born this week in 1608.

Blind John Milton (1608-74) was born into the height of the Protestant Reformation in England though clearly heard of China writing, “Chinese drive, with sails and wind, their cany waggons light” in Paradise Lost (1667) indicating that the West knew of the sail driven wheelbarrows of China that William Alexander was to paint over a century later in the 1790s (as in the example below) when he saw them while accompanying Lord McCartney s Mission to China. Milton also noted the spice trade as well as the greatness of Beijing in Paradise Lost:

 City of old or modern fame, the seat

 Of mightiest empire, from the destined walls

 Of Cambalu, seat of Cathaian Can

Milton later refers to Pequin without apparently realising that both Pequin and Cambalu are alternative names for Beijing. It seems Milton was excited by China as a vast market for English manufacturing, but criticised what he saw as the country’s absolutist government which, in his mind, paralleled the absolutism of Catholicism and the Divine Right of Kings.

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Terese Rudolph – Doing the “Shrapnel Swing” in 30s Shanghai: war, quakes, cholera, no clothes, nothing defeated Miss Rudolph

Posted: December 10th, 2016 | No Comments »

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….

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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…

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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”.

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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.

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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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