Photo of Dr. Grabau taken by Walter Granger at the Language School in Peking probably in mid- to late-1920s. Photo courtesy of Vincent L. Morgan, The Granger Papers Project.

From: Erma Smythe
Peiyang University
Tientsin, China

Zilpha Zimmerman (Erma's mother)

May 30, 1925

Dear Mother:

Yesterday was your birthday and though I intended to write I got put off until too late and so I decided that you'd forgive me if I wrote the first thing in the morning. Yesterday was a busy day for me. I left the house at eight-thirty for town. Arriving there I had a half an hour to shop before beating it back to the Chinese city where I had an English class at the Y.W.C.A. I cut my lesson five minutes short because I wanted to buy some silk for a slip down on the Ku-I-chieh. But my coolie not expecting me was nowhere to be found. I waited at the gate and every peddlar that came by seemed to know that my coolie was away and informed me that he was slow.

While waiting I stepped across the road and proceeded to inspect the interior of the an enormous temple built in honor of Confucious. The temple is not old only about twenty years but it never has been cared for. A humpbacked bridge crosses over a pool of slimy water. There is not a treee or blade of grass in the place. There are some tablets and a few devil dogs scattered around and that is about all. Certainly nothing beautiful as it is though it could make a charming place if fixed up. There is plenty of space.

Tien finally appeared and I continued my trip. Enclosed is a sample of the silk I bought. When I wash it and find out how it acts I am going to buy some more and make up into a slip for you. I have the yoke already. It is of filet.

I came home and as soon as I finished tiffin I started in on my slip, and have it nearly finished. Not so bad to do it all by hand. I have a sewing woman coming next week and she is going to make up some sheets and pillow cases for me.

In about two weeks I will be leaving for Pei Tai Ho for the summer. Donald plans to go on to Shansi(?) if there is no war and it doesn't look probable now. Though this end of town is stuffed full of soldiers. I have a job reporting for the Peking and Tientsin Times this summer. It is a British mewspaper so though I will be at a summer resort I will have no society to report. Which I don't object to not doing in the least. I hope to make a little more than expenses but if I do only that it will be quite a help as living there is so expensive.

The various missionary societies hold their conferences there during the summer so they will afford me considerable space. That is a resort for all the whites from Shanghai to Mukden so just from the point of the people I will meet should make it interesting. Dr. Grabau has promised me a geology story. Don can tell you who he is. He is now chief adviser to the geology bureau of the Chinese government. Last week he was here for two days and delivered some lectures at the University.

In a general way I asked him what opportunities a geologist would have in the East. He said that there was plenty to be done but no money to do it with as any source over here is likely to be cut off at any time. But for a man of independent means it is a geologist's heaven.

All of the old timers here claim that never have they seen such a spring in China as we have had this year. It is almost June and no hot weather yet. In fact the spring has been delightful and cool with just enough rain to keep the dust down. Usually, they say winter jumps into blistering summer

By the time this reaches you you have no doubt seen Mrs. Eastham. She promised me that she would look you folks up. She is a very sophisticated sort of a person but underneath her seemingly callous exterior I find that she has a warm heart. I really didn't get very well acquainted with her because we are not enough of the same type.

Next week is exam week at the U and then school closes. They do not have commencement exercises it seems.

Enclosed is a list of the things contained in the box I sent to Eunice a few days ago. I hope she will like the stuff. That cloth of Indian print stuff they claim will not fade when washed but Eunice had better try a corner first.

If Eunice sells any of theose earrings be sure to tell her to not be afraid to stick on the price. My quoted price is not much of a guide. She might get some estimate on the value of the jade from the jeweller downtown. He probably thought it worth quite a lot if he was afraid to cut it!

If she likes the snuff bottles I will send her some more. The perfume companies are gobbling them up to use a patterns for their perfume bottles. They are made in an infinite variety of shapes, materials and design.

The big black bracelet was my pet. Tell Eunice to keep that- its from me and seems to just be made for her. One with as nice workmanship as that doesn't come by often. That can be her birthday present. I expect that she will adore those tinkling white jade earrings. I have more of those if she can find sale for them I will send them. She ought to get at least $5 a pair for those if not $10.

Some day when I go to town I am going to search for Buddas and images of Kwan-Yen the bhuddistic madonna. Eunice will like her I know. We have one image of her with three faces and eight arms, but Donald won't give her up. She stands about eight inches high.

It is nearing time for Eugene to come and after him my Chinese lesson and I haven't studied that yet so I will close, wishing you many happy returns of your birthday.

With love to all
Your daughter

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