Book 2   pages 11-20

went along with you. He saw that you had everything when you got there and he put everything out and set up the altar and so fourth
If you wanted to talk about the people, and so fourth, sermons, and so fourth, you could talk to the boy. In this way he could help you.
Now, about studying Chinese, about writing Chinese, most of us didn’t have time in the beginning to write Chinese because it would have delayed your work so much longer. And most of us didn’t do it. The idea was we’ll do that later but like so many other things you put off and nothing happens.
Of the American priests that were over there the only priest that got where he could be not only speak Chinese but he could write was George Yager’. But that was later on when he had time to devote to it. And another thing about writing Chinese it is not only harder to remember the characters but to write them. There are something like, we might even explain like printing language and written language. When our kids go to school they study and they learn to print things first. Then later on they start writing them in longhand. And that’s the way Chinese is too, the written language is different than the printed language and that’s hard.
So, as I said Father George Yager, later on when he had more time to devote to it and study he got where he was pretty good at not only writing Chinese but reading it. For example, the newspaper, that was, it’s written in a different language. So that’s another reason that prevents us from learning Chinese. It takes more time because it’s a different language, it’s not a primitive language, it’s a written language.
George got pretty good. He could read a newspaper and write the Chinese. But that was only afterwards when he had more time to devote to it and he could do that.
After a year of studying it and using it you could get to where you could get along with the Chinese, but you certainly were not fluent in it. I don’t know that any foreigner was ever fluent in Chinese. But they got where they were sort of more second nature, didn’t have to stop and think and they could speak it like it was Chinese but you never really truly got to where you were fluent in it. It takes a lot of study. In learning Chinese you got to use it. If you don’t use it, well, it doesn’t do you much good.
I saw that very plainly now. As an example Bishop Misner was our second bishop over there, Bishop Sheehan was our first one and later on Bishop
Misner. Bishop Misner was a very intelligent man. He had a Doctor of Divinity. He went to Rome and got a Doctor of Divinity and he spoke French, and he spoke
English, and so fourth, but the fact that he. most of the time while he was over
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there he was in office jobs, you might say. Before he was Bishop he was assistant to Bishop Sheehan and he didn’t really get out and associate with the Chinese too much. Off and on, yes, but it was not like every day. He didn’t have to go out and make missions and so forth. So in spite of the fact that he was very intelligent, he never got to speak Chinese too well. He spoke it, yes, but he was not really and truly too good in it because he never used it in the sense that he was not out among the Chinese all the time. He was at home in the office or something like that. And so, while he learned Chinese he never learned to be fluent in it, maybe because he did not use it. So to get the Chinese you have to be able to use it. Use the Chinese than more or less you feel at home. Now, the Chinese are great “flatterers”. Like, maybe after a while they’ll tell you, “Oh, you speak Chinese like a Chinese, like a native.” But, that’s just flattery, that’s not the truth. If you believed them well, then you end up the wrong way, because you might be able to use the Chinese, you are not fluent in it. I’d say you have to be over there years and years to be fluent. And then, you might have a different accent to it.
I can never forget that next to our diocese over there was the Irish Columbian Fathers there. And once in a while, while it wasn’t close, if the opportunity presented itself, we might visit with them. And some one place or another you’d run into them or see them. I never forget the Irish. They spoke Chinese but they spoke it with a brogue. It’s funny, you know, you almost have to laugh at someone who would be talking. They would be saying the same words that you were but it would have a brogue to it. They spoke Chinese with an Irish brogue. So, if you use the Chinese every day you would be more or less fluent with it. You might not be as fluent as the Chinese tell you or flatter you but at least you can get along with it. You can feel pretty, comfortable with it.
In regards to the boy going along with you to the missions... of course back at the time that was the pre Vatican Mass. We didn’t have the mass of the vernacular yet. When we said the mass, the mass was in Latin. Here in America at that time well, the mass was in Latin but the scripture readings was in English. Well, when we would be in China the boy would do the reading, the scripture reading in Chinese. That was the usual procedure.
Towards the end I got more time to study a little more I got where I could read the gospel, maybe for myself, in the mass. But that’s about the
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extent of mine. And I don’t think many of them even got that far where you could read the Chinese. But, if you couldn’t read it, you wouldn’t lose any face or thing if you had your boy read it. That was expected.
One of the things that you see right away in China is the poverty. There’s certainly a lot of poverty in China and in the beginning it’s just a wonderment, there’s so much poverty there. Maybe you think the reason there’s much poverty is because they are lazy that they don’t work or something of that sort. But, that’s certainly not the right answer. That’s another thing that could be farther from the truth.
The Chinese are not lazy. Because they are poor does not mean that they are lazy. They probably are the most industrious people in the world. yes, I don’t know what they are talking about, maybe the Japanese are along the same line. But, myself, I know the Chinese are the most industrious people In the world. And if they are poor and they don’t have much of the good things in life it’s not because they are poor it’s because one of the main problems is there’s just too many Chinese.
When we were over there they said the Chinese was 400 million and then later on after the Communists took over they said there’s a billion Chinese.
now I think they even raised that up. Then that means that every fourth person in the world is Chinese. And the arable land they have is not even as large as what we have in the United States. So, the reason why the Chinese are poor is because there are not even enough goods to go around. And if there’s not enough to go around then they are going to be without it....
The reason, I say, you notice it right away in everything you see, in their living, in their clothing, their habits, in everything. They are poor …that’s ordinary poor. Occasionally there could be a hundred or a couple hundred that are well off but most of the people are poor. They live very por1y. Once a year they may have a decent pair of clothes. But, ordinarily their clothing is poor. . . it’s ordinary and poor. And, their dwellings are poor, id that’s one of the first things that you notice over there is the poverty.
Now in these days and age there the good things of life are coming to the cities, and so fourth In the cities they have electricity, they have radios and TV’s, and deep freezes and things like that. But that’s only in the tt1es. Because they have electricity there, in the country they don’t have electricity. You don’t have electricity. Well, if you don’t have electricity, there’s not much you can do.
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Even here in America if you didn’t have electricity there’d be a lot of things that you couldn’t use either. Your stoves wouldn’t work, your heating wouldn’t work, your stove wouldn’t work, your lights wouldn’t work, your TV wouldn’t work, your radio wouldn’t work and just think of all the things that are run by electricity. That’s because we have electricity here.
When I was young and growing up we didn’t have electricity- so we didn’t have radios and TV’s or electricity and all that kind of stuff because we didn’t have them. we didn’t have electricity. So, that’s one of the main things in China, they don’t have electricity particularly in the country.
So you can’t have all those gadgets that you have which they do have in the cities because they do have electricity in the cities today. But in China because most of the people live in the country and they don’t have electricity. And because they don’t have electricity they can’t have. if they have radios they have to have battery radios and they don’t have the deep freezes or refrigerators or anything of that sort. So, they are very poor. And, as I say it’s mainly because there’s not enough to go around. What they do have, well there’s just that many people and so many people have to go without. So, the Chinese, in their dress for example, they dress ordinary in their work clothes most of the time.
(side 2)
Most of the Chinese had very poor clothes. Every day they wore their everyday clothes but maybe they might have an outfit for a special ones. for weddings, for something special.
In spite of the fact that silk originated in China not too many of the dresses were even of silk. They were just were for special occasions when they had one set of clothes or maybe they had to go out but ordinarily they dressed very poorly. Not only did they dress poorly, but the food was poor. The Chinese live almost entirely on rice. Now rice is a good food. But if you have to live almost entirely on it well. I think you’d get tired too.
When we would go out, f or example, on the missions they fed us. We ate what they gave us. Of course you got rice three times a day. Maybe you have something else to go with it but when you have rice three times a day it’s boresome too. But the Chinese, they love rice, they eat it three times a day. Not only small amounts but huge amounts every day.
Their ordinary diet is rice and vegetables. They have meat, pork, but they don’t have that too often. In the cities, of course, you can buy it any time, but most of the people lived in the country and they, you didn’t have meat available. So most of the time they ate rice and vegetables.
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The climate was a little warmer than here in Missouri and so there was a longer period of green vegetables in the gardens, and so they ate vegetables with their food. In the winter time when it was impossible to grow vegetables in their gardens they made not exactly a sauerkraut, but in a way sauerkraut. These vegetables, that’s what they ate in the winter time. So, their ordinary diet was rice and vegetables.
If they got meat it was only rarely, especially in the country. If you had a village in the country, once every week or two weeks, you’d have market day and on market day you’d have pork. You could have pork, but you would have to buy it. But, some of them were even too poor to be able to buy meat and they would only have it maybe once or twice a week or even a month. And, they couldn’t buy a great amount, as I said, they didn’t even have refrigerators. They had no way of keeping it. If they bought meat they would have to eat it up or if they kept it, it would spoil.
So, they did not have meat to eat with their rice too often. As I said it was pork. It’s the kind of meat you can get but you can’t get beef because there’s not many beef cattle in China.
In the country they have a few cows but they use them to work in the fields. They live with rice, but rice grows in water. Sometimes they have to dry these fields and even lose water in them. In the hillside where they have to depend on nature for water they can’t waste it. They have to store it. So, sometimes they plow these fields in the water and the cows can do that but the horses will not. If you tried to put a horse in the field like that with mired up mud well, they would flounder in no time. So they do not use them.. .there’s a few horses they have they use for riding. But, the cows they have they use for tilling the field and they don’t grow them for food.
So, you can’t buy beef. The only kind of beef you can get over there would be if the cow got so old it couldn’t work anymore.
They would kill it or maybe it broke a leg or something. Otherwise the only kind of fresh meat or chicken. So the food that the Chinese use was rice and vegetables. They cooked their rice by steaming it and then use vegetables along with it.
The rice is good. When I went over there I was not use to eating rice but after I got used to it I became accustomed to it and I liked it. But, I could not eat the amount that the Chinese ate. Of course, they were hungry all the time because they didn’t have a very good diet so they could eat tremendous amounts of it. I guess they would eat twice as much as I would. But, it very palatable.
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Since the Chinese have meat so rarely they are not particular what they eat, they will eat any kind of meat. To them meat is meat and nothing special. For example, when they butcher, butcher a hog they split it down half and hang it up in their shop. So when you come in to buy, but some meat the butcher starts at one end and works his way up to the other. He starts at the neck, for example, and gives you part of that, and you go up and you might get to the center, you know to the ribs, and to very end get some of the ham. But that don’t make too much difference to the Chinese. Meat for them is meat. They didn’t make a difference. Sometimes they would go to the butcher and they would even ask him to cut off some of fat because the oil was scarce and they needed a little oil. They needed it for cooking. That’s about the only kind of special meat you could get from the butcher. Tell him to give you more fat. They’d get more fat so they could get some lard out of it. The Chinese said that meat was meat and they would eat any kind of meat. Dog, well they liked dog. That was special. And some of the people would even eat cats and wild animals they would eat anything like that just as soon as it was done they would eat it. But, it’s so rare for them. -
As I said the clothing of the Chinese is poor and their eating is poor and their living is poor and their house is poor. The hovels that they live in is just poor, very, very poor.
Most of the houses, particularly in the country, were dirt floors. Sometimes the sleeping room might have a plank floor but a good many of the houses just had dirt floors. Well, that was more practical. They had a lot of kids around and they would dirty things up and so they would get it a lot cleaner with dirt than anything else. So, their houses were poor. They had a shell put up for the house and tile roof over that and sides put around. The rooms, they had partitions made for that, different rooms, and so fourth Well, sometimes, the top would just hardly be closed in, not really finished in any special way.
Now of course that was not very nice in the winter time. Now, the climate where we were in China, well, it was a little warmer than here than we have in Missouri states. But, it got cold there. Well, in the winter time sometimes we would get snow, not a great deal, It was rather rare that we got snow but at least it wasn’t snowy, it was cold. And, some of those houses were just sheds, you might say. They would be dry but the wind would whistle in and it didn’t keep you very warm. So, the houses they lived in were very poor. And about the only place where you saw there was a floor was in their bedrooms.
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Quite often, especially in the country, their houses were built in a square and in the center was open. They had a roof over it but the sides were open and that’s where most of the work. the women would sit most of the day. They would be sitting there and sewing or making shoes or something of that sort. But the bedroom was inside. And, as I say, sometimes the bedroom would have a wooden floor otherwise, that was all dirt.
In the Chinese houses the kitchen was more or less in the back. A lot of times it would be smokey. They couldn’t help it. The fire wood was very expensive in China. The Chinese have lived there thousands and thousands of years and so the fire wood is very scarce, expensive. Firewood can be bought but it’s usually cut down usually in the mountains and floated down the river, and so fourth, and that way sold as firewood, but it’s so expensive. Ordinary people can’t even afford it for it’s too expensive. So one of the jobs is to go out and get firewood. You bring firewood. Most of the time it’s not real wood. It’s little scrubs and bushes and limbs of trees that broke off or something. It’s not decent firewood. But if it could burn at least they could use it.
They use a lot of rice over there and rice is hulled. Its got a shell around the outside of it and the hull, before you can eat it, it has to be hulled, and that can be used, but it’s not very good burning but it will burn so sometimes the people have to use the rice hulls or the rice straws or the husband goes out on the hills and tries to find what he can, little bushes and shrubs and sticks, and so fourth, and that’s used for fuel.
Well, of course that is smokey and some of the old style fireplaces or ranges are for the cooking had a little short chimney on it but not too long a lot of times, because of so much smoke they would burn. the stuff they would burn. Most of them had a flu, that went all the way outside but some of them didn’t even go outside. They just went up about four or five feet and there were holes up there in the attic above the kitchen and the smoke could get out. So, the kitchen was more or less in the back. In this way it kept the house a little’ bit better and cleaner.
Now, when we talk about eating and Chinese, and so fourth, eating rice, and so fourth, that is the ordinary fare but that does not mean that they can’t cook better if they had that opportunity. A banquet in China, that’s what they use the term, it’s a special meal. They cook up meat. Well, a Chinese banquet is wonderful. I like that, I’ll take that anytime. I prefer that to any kind of a meat. But, of course, that’s only something special. There’s probably only one or two occasions a year when they might have something and use

December 5, 1989 17

a banquet. Of course New Year’s would be one. New Years for them is the biggest feast of the year and then they have a banquet then. Ordinary people, they don’t get a chance to have these banquets every day. But to have these banquets, to eat a Chinese banquet, that’s very tasty and very special.
While we are talking about Chinese banquet, and so fourth, especially Chinese New Years. A New Years feast for them is the biggest feast of the year. That’s like all the rest of them, the Fourth of July; the Seminary Picnic; Christmas and everything all flowed into one for them, Christmas. New Years is their big feast. And it’s a day for them, well it’s almost expected, everybody is expected to have a little feast on that day. Maybe, not too big, but at least have some meat especially on that day, have a little special feast,
That reminds me of the story that they tell about over there. A husband and a wife were living together and the husband smoked and the wife was getting after him all the time. Said, you just smoke and you’re wasting money and he said, “Oh, it don’t cost very much to smoke. I don’t smoke a whole lot he said I don’t spend a lot of money.” But, she kept bothering him and telling him to quit smoking, and wasting a lot of their money.
Well, they got together one day and she said, “Well, if you are going to keep on smoking and spending our money on smoking I’m going to take that much money out of our account and every time you buy a quarters worth of tobacco I’m going to take a quarter out and put it away for us.” So, he said okay and they went on. Every time the husband bought fifty cents worth of tobacco the wife took fifty cents out of the general fund and put it away for herself and if he bought twenty-five cents, well, she did the seine thing.
So, they did that for a whole year and they came to the end of the year and the husband didn’t have any money to spend the New Year. As I said they expected them to have meat and a little special food and little special things for New Years. And he got to end of New Year and he didn’t have anything to do it. So, the wife said, “See, you said that it didn’t cost anything to smoke. Every time you spent money for tobacco I took it out and now, look how much I’ve got.” She took out and she had five or ten dollars of the money that she had put aside. And, he said, “Well, I’ll be doggoned, I didn’t think that I spent that much on it. So, it’s a fact smoking does cost money.”
He didn’t have any money to buy food for the New Year but she did. So he said, “Well, if it costs that much I’m going to quit!” So next year he quit smoking. He didn’t smoke any and the wife, because the husband had quit smoking and he didn’t take any money out of the pot she didn’t either.
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So when they came to the end of the year the husband said. “Well, here’s New Years again and I don’t have any money for New Years.” “Well, she said, I didn’t take any money and I don’t have anything for New Years.” And, the husband said, “Well, doggone it, last year I smoked and you had money to pass New Years, but this year I didn’t smoke any and you didn’t keep anything for the tobacco and so we neither have anything.” And, he said, “I’m gonna smoke next year, it’s cheaper smoking than not smoking.”
Another thing that you notice in China is of course due to the poverty and the conditions, and so fourth, is the sickness in China. The Chinese do not have, many doctors in China, and the doctors, if they do have, are herb doctors and not medical doctors. They are herbalists. That’s all the doctors they had. And if a person gets sick well, they go to a doctor and he writes out a prescription and they take the prescription and go to a medicine shop and the medicine shop fills out the prescription. Well, goodness knows what all that is that the prescription is that the doctor writes.
They take it to the shop, the medicine shop and to fill that prescription, well, he might bring in some leaves and some barks of trees and sticks and things like that. You don’t know what all they are. The person takes it home and they put it in a pot and they boil it. From the brew that they get from this prescription the person drinks it. Well, sometimes what they have in their medicines are good but there are certain things that come from Chinese medicines that we use in our Western medicine but not too much of it.
Most of it is herbs that they gather and that they put together for a prescription. Western medicine, as I say, they have it but they don’t, locally they don’t have it. One of the things that we did in China was. a lot of times we had dispensaries. There’s so much minor sickness in China that we used to have dispensaries. I ran one in Hokaw and Nihwang and other places but, of course, it was just for minor ailments.
Before we went to China Father Smith and I went to New York and, we spent about five or six weeks there going to the hospital everyday and just watching and learning and taking a first aid course.
And we had some medicines and so, we had a dispensary and we would have a bunch of aspirin and boy it’s surprising the things that aspirin can do. You had aspirin and quinine. There’s a lot of malaria in China and you would use quinine for malaria. You’d have some salves. There’s an awful lot of sores that the Chinese have, well you might say, caught them from impurities or something like that. People would come and of course we’d never charge them or anything, usually anything, charge them anything, put some salve on their sores
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and bind them up or if they had malaria we’d give them quinine medicine for malaria or we’d have some aspirin for headaches, and what not. As I say it was surprising how many good you can do with aspirin. So that was about the only foreign medicine that you’d have there.
Now in the cities they were getting foreign medicine, Western medicine, but not too much. In the country the Chinese doctor was an herbalist. You got sick they gave you a prescription and you got well, if It didn’t help you there was nothing you could do about it. One thing about the Chinese, the herb doctors they take pulses and they take pulses on the right hand and the left hand both. They think they are different and a lot of times from taking these pulses they write up a prescription and they use it for the sickness. But sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not.
Another thing that they had was this acupuncture, which we have here in the states now. Well, I never thought much about acupuncture in China. I didn’t believe in it at all. Recently it’s kind of the vogue here in America and I have read a little about it and they say that it works. Well, I never saw it work very much in China. I think that it’s because of the people that used it didn’t know what they were doing.
It’s quite possible that using these needles and pricking people in certain nerves and so fourth it has an effect. I heard that Chinese use it now in the bigger cities. Use it instead of ether or something for operation. For a major operation they use acupuncture. The prick these needles in them and it renders them more or less, not unfeeling, but they are numb and so fourth. They can operate on them without anesthetic. But the Chinese that I saw that were doing it were just punching around. I don’t think that they knew what they were doing. I don’t think that they did much good. I don’t have much faith in the acupuncture or the herb medicine.
Now, perhaps they are getting more Western medicine but that has to be shipped in. But I am, sure aspirin and quinine and things like that are probably available at least in the bigger stores now. But, in our times they were not available and since malaria was so prevalent so many people would come to us for malaria medicine and it was widespread.
Malaria mosquitoes were prevalent. One thing that we had over there in China that you had over your bed was a mosquito net. That was to keep out the mosquitoes because if you didn’t you were apt to be bit by the mosquito and you’d develop malaria. And among the Chinese that was one of the things that they had on their bed. Practically most of them had them on their bed, not all
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