My Life in China, 1926-1941

My Life in China, 1926-1941

My Life in China, 1926-1941

My Life in China, 1926-1941

Excerpt

TRAINED newspapermen are supposed to be able to dive into a new environment and, no matter how murky the medium, come up briskly and triumphantly with the pearl of truth. If that is the safe general rule, then I was a shocking exception when I first went to the Far East early in 1926, for I was wrong from the beginning, and my errors of appraisal were continuous for the first two months I spent in China.

In fact I guessed wrong from the time I booked my passage from San Francisco in the old Siberia Maru, for I planned only a vacation jaunt, and my round-trip ticket was good for only six months. Instead of returning after half a year, China was my home for nearly a decade and a half, and I did not leave until the Japanese drove me out in mid-October of 1940.

Looking back now it seems as if even the approach of our ship to Japanese shores was symbolic of the beginning of a long experience when things were not as they seemed. We had been told at dinner that we would anchor outside Yokohama harbor shortly after midnight and wait for a pilot boat at dawn. Instead, at nine o'clock that evening I thrilled to what I thought were the first shore lights of Japan. A great glittering semicircle gradually appeared curving away in front of the ship -- surely the curve of the harbor we had been heading toward during the nine days and nights since we had left Honolulu behind. Then, suddenly, we were in the midst of those lights and plowing . . .

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