Photo of the Nelsons taken by Walter Granger at his winter camp in Yanjingou, Sichuan Province, 1926. Photo courtesy of Vincent L. Morgan, The Granger Papers Project.

From: Erma Smythe
Tientsin, China

To: Zilpha Zimmerman

Nov. 10, 1925

Dear Mother:

Your most welcome letter came yesterday. I surely did enjoy reading so much news, and with Don's [Ed. note: Don Zimmerman, Erma's brother] letters that father copied it surely was a treat. It is fine that Don is getting along so well. The picture I am enclosing appeared in our paper the North China Star and I thought the one I marked x looks like Don.

Tell the Kidwell boys "hello" for me. I am afraid that you are going to claim those boys for your own pretty soon. And if you see Al Sinclair tell him I haven't forgotten that trip up to the sisters yet. Nothing in China so far like that! But we have wars! Heaps of 'em but the rarest bits are the rumors. This isn't an anti-foreign war at all. Just a scrap between Tuchuns and though we may have to go in town it will be only to keep us out of the way.

The library here takes the New York Times so I get to see what West Point is doing in football.

I went to Peking last Thursday with Mrs. Petterson. She does a lot of laying for shops in America and while there she purchased over a thousand dollars worth of curios. It was great stuff watching her bargain. It was during the Lung Fa Ssu or fair and the curio dealers had their wares displayed out in the open in a big court. I didn't buy much. We were going to stay a day longer but war coulds [Ed. note: clouds?] looked so lowering that we came home on Saturday. On the train coming down from Peking Mr. M.T. Liang one of the delegates to the Washington Conference in 1921 sat across from us and he talked all the way. He is widely travelled and his english pronunciation is as good as mine. He is a great enthusiast over baseball.

We have a new English teacher on the compound. A Miss Young from the Phillippines. She is staying with us. We like her quite well and I hope she makes good.

The flood this year was a different kind from the one last year. No dikes around Tientsin were overflowed or broke but the local rains filled up all the low places. no danger though just inconvenient to have about eight inches of water in your cellar!

It makes me sick that I didn't get a costume for Eunice that I saw in Peking. It was keen. and she could surely have used it.

It is too bad Don didn't get his master's degree or Sigma Xi because in the long run dislike of a certain professor is an incident while an honor like that is an important item.

That certainly is good news about the dresses. I can certainly use them.

And so Pansy got married. I hope she will be happy. She is such a capable housekeeper that I think she will get a big kick out of having her own home. And "mother" wasn't there to boss the wedding.

I am glad and relieved to know that that package with the brocade arrived o.k. I forgot to insure it.

I feel as though I ought to tell you more about Peking, but all I saw was the shops. I didn't get out to the Drum Tower or the Temple of Heaven or the Winter Palace or any of the Lama temples. But I can find my way about now so if I go up later to visit some friends I can go by myself.

I had tea with Mr. and Mrs. Nelson at the Grand Hotel des Wagon-Lits. They left that night for Sezchwan province to hunt for Archaelolgical remains. Mr. and Mrs. Walter Granger went also they will search for fossils. Sezchuwan is the remote province on the headwaters of the Yangtze River and borders on Tibet. They expect to be gone all winter and then return in the spring to join the 3rd Asiatic Expedition on the trip into Mongolia.

The walls around Peking are so massive. First we passed through the outer wall then under huge arches or gates into the inner city and then there are walls and walls inside the inner city. The walls are about this Proportion.

The over each gate is a tower such as I have drawn all decorated in carved woodwork painted in bright greens, blues, reds and yellows the roofs are of green tile. To get inside the wall which is of brick and about 80 ft thick. one goes through two gates on this plan. It is impressive. In the business section of the city the shops are old and some of them tumble down but the carving on some of them is most elaborate. In the old days it was often covered with gold leaf or ws lacquer in red & gold. It must have been beautiful.

We stayed with Mrs. Ingram at the American Board Mission. It is a nice place and the Ingrams are delightful. Mrs. Petterson would bring home a piece with an inscription on it and then he would translate it for her. He took great pleasure in doing it. The American Board is a Congregational mission. We passed the Methodist Mission but didn't stop.

Tiffin is ready so will close this disjointed epistle.

With love to all

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