Gregg gives his impressions of China--dusty, picturesque, and with very high inflation.
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
4 (97,169 Bytes)
1946-05-27 (May 27, 1946)
From the personal collection of Michael Gregg.
Reproduced with permission of Michael B. Gregg.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Postwar Work and Retirement, 1945-1956
Monday May 27 or 28 1946
It's about 11:45 PM. I'm sitting in a bare room with 5000 Chinese moths and insects pounding at a screen in front
of me. Loucks and Burwell have faded to bed. They are larks and very droopy by the day's end. We got here Friday afternoon
and have not had any meals except breakfast when we were not somebody's guests. Almost no time to ourselves and an infinity
of impressions of every sort to see, to hear, to decide upon and to remember. I've just finished page 53 of an all too
secret diary. When I can send it from Peiping I'll ask GER to send you a copy.
The country is going through or into a dizzy spiral of inflation. Prices are 3000x what they were in 1936 and no one knows
when the crash will complete the ruin of the
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salaried class--i.e. the more important government personnel. They get about 500 times the salary they had in 1936 but 3000
times is what they ought to have. The US dollar is at 2020, where it ought to be at 3000 so living is expensive here for
Americans too. 60 cents for a glass of milk, 25 cents for a small orange. Unlike France where you couldn't find anything
to buy it is purchaseable--at murderous prices.
We keep completely well. Loucks is widely known and much liked by the Chinese who rush forward to greet him everywhere he
goes. Burwell is enjoying the change and finding much he never thought of before. I think it's a harmonious and successful
"Mission" but my suspicion grows daily that we are taking a snapshot of a whirlwind. The country slips daily into
a deeper morass of
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political instability and currency depreciation. How the PUMC could possibly resume work in such a moving kaleidoscope I
don't see. "Ghosts sitting in the light telling people stories" describes many of our talks. Don't expect
the loot of 1932 returning travellers! If we fly there won't be the weight allowed us and we expect to fly. And silk
has gone sky high and jewels to the stars. I'm sorry but sorrier for these people whose world is rolling away.
China is above all DUSTY. Picturesque but dusty. Impressive but dusty. Hot and. . .you guessed it. I was going to say
beautiful but to see beauty you must be happy inside and as in Europe the human scene is a little too poignant. Tomorrow
we are going to dine with some 50 PUMC graduates, 40
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of these urses who have been riding buses and jeeps and weapons carriers and trains from Cheng-tu hither, steadily since April
27th. A very fine performance and the more so since not always safe, and never clean or even remotely comfortable. And yet
they will be smiling and dainty and sociable.
I wish I could take off a whole day to write to you a full description of it--of even small parts of it. Maybe the airplane
employees strike will keep us here long enough to make that possible. It does not look as though we would get to Peiping
Wednesday nor Thursday nor Friday. And I did want a letter on Wednesday for it seems two months since I left you. Love and
kisses all to you first and last and the same to the kids between whiles[?].