Click here to listen to an audio file of this interview (93 minutes)
This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the second oral history interview of Miss Eleanor Ruth Elliott (CN 187, #T2) in the archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words which were recorded are omitted except for some Chinese phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. In a very few cases, the transcribers could not understand what was said, in which case "[unclear]' was inserted. Also, grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. Readers of this transcript should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and even rule than written English. Also, if the speaker used an older version of a Chinese name, such as Peking" instead of "Beijing," then it is the older version which is in the transcript.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the
sentence of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete
() Word in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
 Words in brackets are comments made by the transcriber.
Nothing recorded has been omitted, In a very few cases, words were too unclear to be distinguished, in which cases the word "[unclear]" was inserted. This is a transcription of spoken English, which of course follows a different rhythm and rule than spoken English.
Chinese names are spelled in the old or new transliteration according to how the speaker pronounced the word. Thus "Peking" is used instead of "Beijing" if the speaker said "Peking".
This transcription was by Virginia Morris and Robert Shuster and was completed March 26, 1988.
SHUSTER: This is an interview with Miss Ruth Elliott by Bob Shuster for the Missionary Sources Collection at Wheaton College. This interview took place at the Billy Graham Center on October 12th at 3:00 o'clock. Now, Miss Elliott, we had just reached the point in our last interview in which you were about to enter Wheaton College. I wonder if you could tell me why you chose Wheaton?
ELLIOTT: Well, my father had gone to Wheaton for one year, in the l...late 1890's, and he liked Wheaton, and so from the time.... And Mother went to Northwestern Medical. And they met doing Christian work in a mission in Chicago.
SHUSTER: Oh, which mission? Do you recall? Do you know?
ELLIOTT: I can't remember. It was a mission that was ...
SHUSTER: Pacific Garden?
SHUSTER: Pacific Garden Mission?
ELLIOTT: I am not sure. It was one that has continued. And, so it may very well have been the Pacific Garden Mission. And Mother helped with...as a when they had a little clinic, and she helped with the medical work there. But also my father went there to help with the evangelical, evangelistic work and so that's where they met. But ...so we...we've always thought oh, Wheaton would be the only place to go to school. That was all. It was a Christian college that.... And after I had finished BIOLA [Bible Institute of Los Angeles], Margaret had graduated from BIOLA, and then she came to Wheaton, and [knocking in background] so then I came to Wheaton.
SHUSTER: Okay. Had you ever seen Wheaton before, before you came here to go to school?
SHUSTER: What was your first impression? How...first of all, how did you arrive, at Wheaton?
ELLIOTT: Oh, my sister and...and I, and we drove with a young engaged couple who were going to go to Ashland College in Ohio, and their parents refused to allow them to go unless they had somebody with them, and we wanted to come to Wheaton, and so they said, "Well, sure we'll, we'll do it." But they had a poor old Ford and every little while we'd we'd get stuck in the mud, and the number of times we pushed that car to get it out of the mud! But anyway....
SHUSTER: This was from California to Illinois?
ELLIOTT: Yes, and so when we got to Wheaton we knew that it was going to be good, hard work because we, we were, I was very thankful that we were given because we were Mks [missionary's kids] we were given a scholarship for half of our tuition. But it meant that our board and room and books and...and the rest of our tuition we had to earn because there were four of us in college at once. And my father and mother couldn't possibly...
ELLIOTT: ...send us all through college at once. So we had to work. And...
SHUSTER: Where'd you work?
ELLIOTT: Well, we worked in the cafeteria. And I swept halls. And then last year when my sister Frances was here for her fiftieth anniversary, I was driving around Wheaton and we were going up West [Street] and she said, "I cleaned that house every Saturday. I cleaned that house." And I said, "Yeah, and I cleaned that house and I cleaned that house." [Unclear] Every Saturday morning we cleaned houses, there in Wheaton...
SHUSTER: All your time at Wheaton?
ELLIOTT: ...to earn money. Yeah. And we did everything we could to earn our way. And then in the summer time we sold one summer I sold Bible encyclopedias, and two summers I sold Bibles.
SHUSTER: Just in Wheaton, or did you go through Illinois?
ELLIOTT: Oh, no. One summer in Michigan and two summers in Wisconsin. And so...
SHUSTER: How did that work out?
ELLIOTT: We, we had to...
SHUSTER: Did you [unclear]?
ELLIOTT: ...we had to...we had a little old Ford that was barely able to screw along, and we had to pray that the Lord would help to keep that car going, and...
SHUSTER: When you say "we"--you and your sister?
ELLIOTT: Yes. First it was Margaret and I who went to Michigan, and then Frances and I went to...no, it was only two summers that we did that, one to In..., and...and the second summer was in Wisconsin, because I was only three years in Wheaton. And so I only had two summers to work like that. But we had to make our, we had to earn enough money to keep the car going, to have ro...pay our room and board, and we'd always go to a...a church (we'd try to find the most evangelical church that we could find) and then tell the pastor what we were doing, and he would recommend to the Sunday School people, and he'd in...he introduced us in the church each place where we went. And so people knew us and would receive us and very it was usually the Sunday School teachers who bought. And...
SHUSTER: So you didn't go door to door.
ELLIOTT: No, we did not. But then we would ask if there was another church that was evangelical that would want Bibles. And then we'd go to their Sunday School people or then we'd say, "Now is there anybody who doesn't teach Sunday School but who would be interested in Bible study?" and then we'd try to find those. And we got enough at least so that we paid our way for our room and board for the summer and enough to [clears throat] pay a good lot on our tuition when we came back.
SHUSTER: I imagine you were selling on a commission basis?
ELLIOTT: Yes. Yes. It was definitely on a commission basis.
ELLIOTT: It was hard work.
SHUSTER: I'll bet.
ELLIOTT: But, you know that we made friends who have been back of us, I mean for years they wrote to us. And when we went to China, Margaret and I had been in Michigan, and we were in Flint, and Dr. Savage was a Baptist minister there, and he'd, he and his people were so kind to us, and we were in touch with them for years. And....
SHUSTER: Whose...whose Bible encyclopedia were you selling?
ELLIOTT: [sighs] that's terrible. I can't think of it now. I know perfectly well, but....
SHUSTER: It wasn't Moody Press...?
ELLIOTT: The People's Bible Encyclopedia. And...and then we sold a Bible that was a with a commen...with a, not commentary.
ELLIOTT: It had concordance. Yes, I guess there was a commentary on it too; only I can't remember now what...which Bible that was. That's terrible. [Chuckles] But we...I remember that I had used up what I thought was all my money within the first week of school, paying out whatever I had saved, and...and then about in October the company sent me $34.00 of extra. Oh, I thought that was just an absolute fortune. [Laughs] It was so lovely! 'Cause, of course, this was in...I graduated in '30, and it was just the time of the Depression, and every penny counted.
SHUSTER: I'll bet.
ELLIOTT: So I thought that was a small fortune. And....
SHUSTER: What...you say you worked in the...cafeteria too?
SHUSTER: As a cook, or as a...?
ELLIOTT: No, we did the dishes. Mar...we, all three of us girls worked in the...there were three of us together, you see.
SHUSTER: I imagine there must have been a big pile of them every evening.
ELLIOTT: Oh...but we...we worked, we worked morning, noon and night because they had breakfast and they had lunch and they had dinner at night, and so we, we had to go there, and we...we took the trays in and took the dishes off and piled them, and then somebody else did the washing of them. But we were the ones who took all the trays in. And so [Laughs] And then we had to get up early in the morning to sweep halls before...before we went to work in the cafeteria.
SHUSTER: It sounds as though you were doing all the work on campus.
ELLIOTT: Yes, we did. We tried to, because we had, you know, we had things that we liked...I mean, we had to be at class, of course...
ELLIOTT: ...and we took a full course. In fact, I didn't get full credit. I mean I didn't get a full year's credit for my two years at BIOLA. And so I've forgotten exactly how many hours I got--twenty three or twenty four--but anyway it meant that I had to in three years make up those hours. And so I started in taking 17; well, that wasn't enough. And so then I had to take 18 hours, and then one t...my junior year I took (or my senior year, I've forgotten which it was) I took nineteen hours. And...
SHUSTER: In on top of all the cafeteria work and sweeping?
ELLIOTT: Yeah, and oh, that meant, really, when I studied I just concentrated as hard as I could, and I was taking a lot of English lit, and I had to read real fast. And so, boy, I was glad I could read fast. [Laughs]
SHUSTER: Looking back now, do you think that was a good experience, or was too much, or was...?
ELLIOTT: Oh, I...I loved it. Another thing that was a very great joy to us was that from the time we were little we three girls had always sung trios. And you know the other day I found a trio: Margaret had written the word and I wrote the music in 1928.
And we sang that in chapel, we sang that in...we were in the Aelioian [sp?] Literary Society we were the EELS...
ELLIOTT: ...and we sang it there, and then Wendell Loveless asked us to sing...
SHUSTER: Oh, yeah.
ELLIOTT: ...in different places, and so we went into Chicago and sang, and I remember his introducing us, and we were petrified before we went up...
ELLIOTT: ...we were sitting in the front row, and he was sitting right near us, and so the...the man who was presiding introduced us and...and it was a huge audience (I've forgotten where it was, but it had a balcony and...and people were just crowding in) and...and Wendell reached over and he said, "Smile." [Laughs] And so we went up and smiled and then sang. [Laughter]
SHUSTER: Did you...you had already decided to be a m...you had already been called to be a missionary...
SHUSTER: ...when you came to Wheaton. Did you select your courses with mission work in mind? Were there any particular courses you think you needed?
ELLIOTT: Well, of course, I, we...we all required to take Bible, and we loved it. And we took the courses that we thought would, I mean anything that possibly would help us in our Bible teaching, and then we took also courses in teaching, how to teach Bible. And so it was very helpful. We...we purposely did that. And then but my major was English Lit 'cause I loved English Lit. But it meant reading. And Dr. Dow was the head of the department, and oh I just loved her. And...
SHUSTER: Why was that?
ELLIOTT: Well, she was such a good professor. She really knew her things. And a lot of people felt that she was kind of offish, you know. But you know I always sat on the front row, and I just loved her. And do you know that in my senior year she brought great big photos, and she said, "Who would like a photo?" And I put my hand up...
ELLIOTT: ...and she gave me it, and I said, "Would you please sign it?" and so she did, and so I just loved having that great big picture of Dr. Dow. And then...
SHUSTER: Did you...?
ELLIOTT: ...when the Japanese bombed, the...the...all my things were lost, and...
SHUSTER: Including the photo?
ELLIOTT: ...and all my Wheaton bo...annuals and my lovely memory book with all the happy times that I'd had at Wheaton.
SHUSTER: Did you...?
SHUSTER: Did you see much of her outside the classroom, or...?
SHUSTER: Were there...?
ELLIOTT: No, she wasn't the, she didn't...
SHUSTER: She wasn't that kind.
ELLIOTT: No, she didn't expect to have co...well, she wasn't young and she...teaching was...was her...
ELLIOTT: ...and she didn't try to make it up or, you know, she didn't try to have social times with the students.
SHUSTER: Were there other professors who had made a big impression on you?
ELLIOTT: Well, Dr. Straw was...he you know, he made a...he had all the freshmen. When I first entered I was a freshman, and then I was given some credit, and so by the end of the first semester I became a sophomore. And [laughs] which meant, you know, working like mad to get part of the courses I had to continue and then add extra, and that's why I had extra hours, and it was really a...a hard thing to do.
SHUSTER: I'll bet.
ELLIOTT: And yet, another thing, though, that we...we decided, at least I decided, that the afternoons, after school, were for sports, because I've always loved sports. And so I was on the basketball team; I was on the softball team; I was m...I played tennis, I played, you know, all the...anything that was going as far as and I just loved sports. And...and I think that the Lord helped me to be able to get through school, through the exercise.
ELLIOTT: Without that, without that good exercise outdoors, I don't think I could have made it, because to have to work as hard as we were working, without that complete change, to me it was relaxation. And I think that was lovely; so I was glad for that.
SHUSTER: Were did you...were you on school teams or were these intermural or informal teams or...?
ELLIOTT: Oh, just in...intermural.
SHUSTER: Yeah. So you didn't have coaches; it was just more or less playing for the fun of it?
ELLIOTT: Well, we did have coaches for the basketball; I was on the basketball team that was intermural,...
ELLIOTT: ...I mean inter-school.
SHUSTER: Who was your coach then?
ELLIOTT: Ji be [sp?]. [Laughs] That means I don't remember. [Laughs]
SHUSTER: Were, were woman athletics...
ELLIOTT: No, not very...
SHUSTER: ...popular on campus then?
ELLIOTT: Oh, yes, they were quite popular, but it wasn't...They had inter-school basketball, and they had inter-school tennis for girls.
SHUSTER: Uh huh.
ELLIOTT: I think that was all.
SHUSTER: And that was it?
SHUSTER: Well, you mentioned that you were a big tennis player too.
ELLIOTT: Well, I wasn't that good. I...I was on the class team, but I wasn't on the school team. I wasn't good enough.
SHUSTER: Uh huh.
ELLIOTT: But a...my very dear friend of my roommate for one year, Helen Nowack, was. She was from China, and we, and we had known...her parents and my parents were good friends, and so I'd...I hadn't met Helen in China, but...but we were very good friends, and...but she was a really a humdinger of a tennis player.
ELLIOTT: She was really good. So...
SHUSTER: Where were the tennis courts in those days?
ELLIOTT: They were across...back of...of the...across from where the dining hall is now.
SHUSTER: Oh, yeah.
ELLIOTT: Across the street there. That house on the corner....
SHUSTER: Were they formal courts--laid out and...?
ELLIOTT: Yes, they were proper courts.
SHUSTER: And I...where was the basketball hall?
ELLIOTT: Well, in the gym. Inside the gym.
SHUSTER: Which is now the Bookstore, that building?
ELLIOTT: Yeah. We...We had...The boys, the boys basketball teams played there too.
SHUSTER: I don't imagine there was very much room for spectators.
ELLIOTT: They had a balcony, so it wasn't.... It was crowded.
SHUSTER: So the games were well attended.
ELLIOTT: Yeah, everybody liked it, so they'd come. [Laughs]
SHUSTER: You mentioned Miss Dow and Mr. Straw, those two professors. Were there any others who made a big impression on you?
ELLIOTT: Do you know I was just trying to think of the name of the other lit teacher, a younger woman, a young woman, who later after Dr. Dow retired, she became the head of the English Lit department. I can't think of her name, but boy, I took courses from her too. She was great! She really was good.
SHUSTER: Were there any professors who personally spent a lot of time with you, or who you visited at their homes?
ELLIOTT: No, I, I didn't have any time to visit anybody really. [Laughs]
SHUSTER: I could see that. My goodness.
ELLIOTT: We really didn't. We didn't have any time to visit...
SHUSTER: Uh huh.
ELLIOTT: ...anybody around in Wheaton. We went to church, and...but we didn't have any time to to visit.
SHUSTER: Did you miss that?
ELLIOTT: No, because we were having a good time. And, you know, [Laughs] it didn't occur to us to to be, you know, needing. I suppose we did have some invitations out for meals or something like that. I know people in the church were very kind to us, and Sunday dinner very often we were invited out. But....
SHUSTER: What church was that? Which church did you go to?
ELLIOTT: The Col...
SHUSTER: The College Church?
ELLIOTT: The College Church. Yes.
SHUSTER: Did...were your parents able to come home at all during your college years [unclear]?
ELLIOTT: Yes, they came home our senior year, and they got the house on 901 College Avenue.
SHUSTER: Oh, so you had...
SHUSTER: ...you were living at home then.
ELLIOTT: So we were able to live...Margaret had already graduated, and so and she left for China, and so Frances and I lived there, and Mary Pearl Rhinehart, who...whose parents were very dear friends, and she was a Wheatonite at that time too. She lived with us. And then we had different, we had a couple of other girls, different...I stayed on a year [Train noise in background] after I graduated from high school, I mean from college, before I left for China. And so during that year we had different...
ELLIOTT: ...different girls. I mean we...Mother and Dad were still there, and they were going back to China, but they hadn't left yet, so they stayed on until we finished.
SHUSTER: Where did you stay before that year? Did you stay in the dormitory?
ELLIOTT: Uh huh. Williston, the Red Castle.
SHUSTER: Oh, yes. Yeah.
ELLIOTT: We were... the mk's had the fourth floor...
SHUSTER: Oh, the best rooms.
ELLIOTT: ...the first year... [Laughs] We didn't mind walking up the, all the way up to the fourth floor. But the first year we three girls had the one room together.
SHUSTER: Oh [unclear]
ELLIOTT: And then the next year Hele...Helen and I, Helen Nowack and I had the room across the hall. And Margaret and Fra...no, Margaret graduated...no, Margaret and Frances had the room where I...we...I...where we had had three of us. It was really very crowded. And so...
SHUSTER: I guess working as hard as you did you didn't have much time for late night food parties or talk sessions.
ELLIOTT: No, we really didn't. I don't remember that we did anyway. No, 'cause I...I know I had to go to the Library. You know, I remember one time that I was sitting across the table from Steve Paine, and (I think he was in my class), and he had a book, and I think it was that thick.
SHUSTER: About three inches.
ELLIOTT: And he just turned pages, turned pages, turned pages, like that.
SHUSTER: While he was eating.
ELLIOTT: No, in the...in the Library.
SHUSTER: Oh, in the library.
ELLIOTT: And...and I was reading away as fast as I could read, and I thought, Good night, is he really reading?
ELLIOTT: And at the end of that, he closed the book, and I said, "Steve, could you tell me what's in that book?" [Background noise] He said, "I can give you all the main ideas." And I thought, Oh, boy, I wish I could read that fast...
ELLIOTT: ...and get the main ideas of a book just by turning the pages like that. And...
SHUSTER: That's a photographic memory.
ELLIOTT: He really was good. But...So I I had to read as fast as I could because I had a lot of reading for English lit.
SHUSTER: I'll bet.
ELLIOTT: But then also because I hadn't had any science before I came in, why then we were required to take science. There at that time they required us to take...
SHUSTER: And they still do.
ELLIOTT: And so I took zoology and...and then we went I took Comparative Anatomy and I was very glad that I...I did that really with the idea of because I knew that anybody who goes to China would have to know something about anatomy...
ELLIOTT: ...to be able to do any clinical work. Because every missionary up country has to help people who are sick. And so I wanted to know something, so I was very glad for that course. and so Wheaton was a very good foundation I think for missionaries.
SHUSTER: What was the spiritual climate on campus like?
ELLIOTT: Oh, I felt that it was really lovely. Everything started with prayer. Every time the Lit Society met, we always had devotions. Ani don't know it just seemed as though that was just the accepted thing that, of course, you would have prayer time together. And it it was really beautiful. We...we loved it.
SHUSTER: Were there...?
ELLIOTT: Every class started with prayer.
SHUSTER: Were there evangelistic meetings on campus?
ELLIOTT: Yes. Every year they would have evangelistic, special evangelistic meetings, that...and there were a lot of...of students who were saved in those evangelistic meetings. And then they would ask all the others to have prayer groups to pray for students that they knew who weren't saved. So we did. We gathered for prayer groups. And so it was really...and the Lord blessed, and there were souls saved there at...I...I didn't know ...by the end of the year I didn't know very many who weren't. Now there were a few, who were really...they were just grit their teeth and ooph! "I'm here only because Mother and Dad sent me and I hate it!" But they...we didn't...you know, we prayed for them but we didn't try to make friends with them, because that wouldn't be a good idea. [Laughs]
SHUSTER: Because they were [unclear] or because you were so busy otherwise?
ELLIOTT: Well, both. [Laughter] They didn't want, they didn't want to be friends with us. And well....
SHUSTER: Were there...you mentioned these prayer groups. Were there prayer groups that met all year round?
ELLIOTT: Yes, we did have prayer groups. We...at Williston we had it by floors, I mean and then they divided this end of the third floor, that end of the third floor, and this end of the second floor, like that, each...each end, and then the fourth floor there were so few of us that we had a...and but we only had to...we...we were expected to have once a week prayer groups, so...
SHUSTER: Oh, so that was something that was more or less like chapel or ?
ELLIOTT: Yeah, sort of, uh huh. And then when we, we'd have meetings of the whole with Mrs. Shapley as, you know, she was the head of the of Williston, and we...we would all, she would have at least once a month a meeting of all the girls in the...
SHUSTER: All the girls on...in the building?
ELLIOTT: ...in the building. Well, we had a trouble, we had some trouble because somebody was stealing. And so it really was finally that a girl who had cut chapel [pauses] had gone into a room and had taken some stuff out, and another girl who got sick and had to come back from chapel came into her room and found this girl with her arms loaded with her clothes and stuff, and so she was just caught in the act.
SHUSTER: I'll say.
ELLIOTT: And so that really was an answer to prayer to get that caught.
ELLIOTT: And so...I can't remember any other incidents of any particular person, be we had...we hadn't thought of her at all as doing that kind of thing.
SHUSTER: That's usually the case, though.
ELLIOTT: Uh huh.
SHUSTER: What was the...you mentioned Mrs. Shapley...
SHUSTER: ...was the housemother and...
ELLIOTT: Dean of Women.
SHUSTER: Dean of Women. What was she like?
ELLIOTT: Oh, she was great. She was a former missionary, and....
SHUSTER: In China?
ELLIOTT: I believe so. And but oh she was really a lovely Christian, a real gentlewoman. She knew...she just automatically had lovely manners, and she just expected the girls to have good manners. And it was really very nice.
SHUSTER: So she helped girls with things like etiquette and...
SHUSTER: ...and bearing?
ELLIOTT: But she didn't make it so that it was obnoxious. So it was really very nice. She was a very fine dean.
SHUSTER: Did...what were chapel services like? Where were they held?
ELLIOTT: Well, they were held at the, they'd the church, the chapel was the new building, and....
SHUSTER: In Pierce Chapel?
ELLIOTT: They built...well, first we had them in the...in Blanchard Hall up on the is it the second, third...
SHUSTER: Second floor, I guess.
ELLIOTT: Second floor.
SHUSTER: Third...Yeah, you're right. Third floor. It's a...
SHUSTER: ...kind of a large room.
ELLIOTT: Yes. And then, then we I think then we had to meet, we got too many and then we had to meet in the gym, if I'm not mistaken, and then I don't remember when Pierce Chapel was built, whether it was built then or whether it was when I came home on furlough...
SHUSTER: Oh, my.
ELLIOTT: ...because every time I came home on furlough I went to Grad School, and so I, I can't remember whether we were in Pierce Chapel yet or not, whether it had been finished when...when...when I was there as an undergrad.
SHUSTER: What were the chapel meetings like?
ELLIOTT: Well, we had different speakers and they were always interesting. We...we...we didn't mind those. But everybody...you had to sit...you were assigned a seat, and they took roll every day...
ELLIOTT: ...in chapel. You had to be there. You were required to go to chapel. So...
SHUSTER: Was Dr. Buswell President when you were at Wheaton?
SHUSTER: Did you ever get to know him personally or have any contact with him?
ELLIOTT: Oh, yes, uh huh. Because they lived on College Avenue just a few doors down from the College, and...and when their children were small, we...we liked those children. We always loved to see...
SHUSTER: You babysat for them, or just...?
ELLIOTT: I don't believe I ever did. I think my sister Margaret did, if I'm not mistaken. But...but anyway, we knew them, and we liked them all.
SHUSTER: You must have heard Dr. Buswell preach in chapel, I imagine.
ELLIOTT: Oh, yes.
SHUSTER: What kind of preacher was he?
ELLIOTT: He was very good. And he didn't...he...he wouldn't try to make it too [pauses] dictatorial or anything like that. It was, it was something that he really felt that he got from studying the Bible that helped him personally, and he passed it on to us. It was more like that rather than laying down the law. [Laughs]
SHUSTER: He was a more emotional speaker than...than say intellectual?
ELLIOTT: Well, there would be times when there was a certain amount of emotion, but it was mostly intellectual. I mean, you know, he...he knew what he was talking about. And but it wasn't but he was warm, you know, in his...you knew that he loved the students. So that...but he...he knew what he was talking about, and he gave good Bible exposition in his...and sometimes he'd have continued thing that he would be studying a certain chapter or even a book and give something like that.
SHUSTER: Over a period of time.
ELLIOTT: Yes. So he was a very good chapel speaker, I felt. But then he always had--Fridays we always knew that there would be somebody else. And they would always have either another minister or a missionary or a somebody like that, you know, a special speaker.
SHUSTER: Did you ever have him as a teacher?
ELLIOTT: I don't believe I did. I'm not sure. I don't remember having him as a teacher. Although everybody that I knew said that he was a very good teacher.
SHUSTER: How was feeling towards him on campus?
ELLIOTT: Oh, I think he was respected.
SHUSTER: Were you there when the change between Dr. Buswell and Dr. Edman took place, or was that after you left?
ELLIOTT: Afterward. Yes.
SHUSTER: Of course, you were on campus during 1929 when there was the stock market crash and [unclear]. [Background noise on tape]
ELLIOTT: Oh, yes! [Groans]
SHUSTER: Did that have an effect on Wheaton?
ELLIOTT: Well, it had an effect on us. [Laughs] To us that was the thing, whether, how much, of course, it meant that Wheaton had to be very economical in everything...
SHUSTER: Oh, how so?
ELLIOTT: ...and...and well, we were you know like the food that was prepared was not you know the first class steaks...
ELLIOTT: ...and things like that. You knew that you were gonna get stew and things like that. But nobody minded. Everybody knew that even at home they weren't gonna get much better than that [Laughs], and so they didn't expect it in college. So we didn't, we didn't mind.
SHUSTER: How did the Depression affect you? You mentioned...
ELLIOTT: Well, it was just that we had to work that much harder, that was all. 'Cause we, we were all, everybody was short of money, and when you try to s...in the summer try to sell Bibles...
ELLIOTT: ...people say, "Well, augh, we...we don't need Bible, a Bible now. I've got a Bible here." But, you know.
SHUSTER: Did you do any selling on credit, or was that...?
SHUSTER: Just wasn't worth the effort, I guess, or worth the trouble it would have been.
ELLIOTT: Oh, no. We...we it was absolutely strictly cash. We...we wouldn't think of credit. We weren't allowed to; the company wouldn't let us.
SHUSTER: Was that the Sou...Southwestern Company, or...you said it was the People's...?
ELLIOTT: People's Bible Encyclopedia. I don't know even remember the name of the company. [Laughs]
SHUSTER: Did you do student teaching while you were at Wheaton?
ELLIOTT: [Pause] I know that we were supposed to do some practice teaching. I don't know. I guess I did in the Academy. But....
SHUSTER: You don't remember very much about it.
ELLIOTT: I don't remember. [Laughter]
SHUSTER: It didn't make a very big impression, I guess.
ELLIOTT: No, it didn't.
SHUSTER: You did say that you and your sisters used to sing as a trio around Chicago?
ELLIOTT: Oh, yes.
SHUSTER: How was that part of a larger student ministry or was it just on your own you...?
ELLIOTT: Well, it was really on our own. because we just loved singing, and...and we had been asked to sing on the campus many, many times. And so people knew us, and...
SHUSTER: You mean at chapel or at...?
ELLIOTT: Yes, in chapel and whenever there was any sp...you know, at Lit Society, and when they had the big gatherings of all the Lit Societies together, and things like that, we usually sang, and (not usually, but often) and...and then on Sundays we were very often invited to sing in churches around, the different churches around in Wheaton and then in other towns, they would take us, so... We liked it, because we just loved music from the time we were little.
SHUSTER: Were there other forms of Christian outreach on campus? Nowadays there’s prison ministry and people going out to the various hospitals and homes in the area, like skid row ministry. Were things like that on campus when you went to Wheaton?
ELLIOTT: I think that there were some, but I really don't I didn't go to any hospitals or, but I, it seemed to me that there were.... They had they had some special groups that were, they would, you could sign up to go...to go to different places. And it was perfectly optional. You could...
SHUSTER: That's the way it is today.
ELLIOTT: And if you signed up, and so there were groups that went. There were some that went to prisons; there were some that went to hospitals; but you signed up for the group.
SHUSTER: What...Were there classmates you had on campus who were a major influence on you or you stayed close with over the years?
ELLIOTT: Oh, I've...we...there were a whole group of us who used to go in to Chicago to the CIM prayer meetings, and....
SHUSTER: That was every week?
ELLIOTT: From Wheaton we'd go in to into Chicago for the CIM prayer meetings, so there were a whole group of us who went in and I...I don't know how in the world we ever got the money or the...[Laughs] oh, when I think about it now or the time, but we always...we'd go in...
SHUSTER: That was every week?
ELLIOTT: Once a month.
SHUSTER: Once a month.
ELLIOTT: And...and it was while we were going to that then they asked us if...if we were interested in going out under the Mission, and Dr. Glover came to the campus and spoke in chapel and then asked people who were interested in the Mission to come. Well, I had already written to the Mission to say that I was interested, and so un there were three of us who were in our class: Katie Dodd (Schoerner)...
SHUSTER: Oh, yes.
ELLIOTT: ...and Helen Nowack (Frame) and I, we three went out together. We were all part of the 200.
SHUSTER: Oh, yes.
ELLIOTT: We were the last group of the 200. I mean it was the last year of the 200. My sister was in the first year. Margaret was in the first year of the 200, and then we were in the last year of the 200.
SHUSTER: Very much a family affair.
SHUSTER: How did you get into Chicago? You took the train?
ELLIOTT: Took the train and then had to take the El north. [Laughs] I don't know how in the world we could do it. You know, the way...we just didn't think anything of it. [Laughs]
SHUSTER: Was the headquarters of CIM in Chicago in those days?
ELLIOTT: Not the...they had a...the Chicago headquarters, but the...the main headquarters were in Philadelphia on School Lane.
SHUSTER: That's what I thought.
SHUSTER: So all the people came to these meetings were the staff of CIM and missionaries on furlough and students like yourself who were interested in China?
ELLIOTT: And Moody students came there, and then any young people from around the area who were interested in missions came. They used to have so many that we were all sitting on the floor all around and they'd have 30-40 young people there every time.
SHUSTER: They came from all over.
SHUSTER: What did you do at these meetings?
ELLIOTT: Oh. Well, we'd.... They were always very interesting to us. They made them very interesting to young people. And they would tell of the...they'd have letters from people, you know, that would...
SHUSTER: Prayer letters.
ELLIOTT: Prayer letters. And special prayer requests needed for this and this and this and...and...and then they would tell about the political situation and what we would be facing, and they didn't mince matters. They...we knew that there was gonna be, it was unrest, unrest all the time and so we weren't going to expect that there wouldn't be some trouble. So...it was good because we were...
ELLIOTT: ...we were very carefully warned before we ever went out.
SHUSTER: I wonder why they don't do that today.
ELLIOTT: Oh, I think that they do because they have candidate sessions.
SHUSTER: Well, I meant just at a monthly prayer session like that.
ELLIOTT: Well, that is too bad, because...but the young man who (well, he isn't, he isn't very, I mean, I suppose he's in his 40's now, but....) he...he and his wife have now ten states that they have been in charge of, and the Bert Kanes were wonderful in helping him, but...so when he...he told me just after Bert and Winnie left, that he said, "I can't manage it. Ten states! And I'm going around and holding conferences here and getting, you know, getting things started there, prayer groups here..." and he said, "I don't know what to do."
SHUSTER: That's a lot of territory.
ELLIOTT: But a young couple...The Lord answered prayer, and a young couple felt called of the Lord to come, and so they've come from the South somewhere, I've forgotten, Florida or someplace, anyway, they're coming up; they've just moved in to the Mission Home.
SHUSTER: They're assisting.
ELLIOTT: And they're going to look after all the mission details and letter writing and stuff like that that and keeping of records and all this, they're going to look after that so that he can travel. And they've moved into a different home. Margaret just told me last night that they've just moved out and they are...so they are going to feel not so pushed. [Background noise] Because, you see, Helen, his wife, had to...to entertain all the guests and anybody who came through, you know, be...and it was...
SHUSTER: A lot of work.
ELLIOTT: ...an awful lot of work. And so now this young couple are going to do all that entertaining.
SHUSTER: Let me ask you one more question about Wheaton. Nowadays you often have both boys and girls bemoaning the dating situation on campus, and the...the problems that kids often have getting together. Was that a problem when you were going to Wheaton?
ELLIOTT: Well, I will tell you that before I came to Wheaton, while I was in BIOLA, I fell in love with a man there, and he was, he was just great. Andwe dated all the time and...andthen there was my very dear friend, a girl, she and a young fellow that she was going with, we double dated quite often and...and then and he was planning to...he wanted to go on to college and finish and get histo be ready to go as a missionary too.
SHUSTER: To China.
ELLIOTT: And.... Yes. And so just before I graduated, not very long before I graduated, he...his father had been...he was in the park supervision and he was up in one of the parks up in the mountain when there was a landslide, and he was killed. And so he was the only son; he was the only child. And he felt...he said, "Well, Ruth, I've just got to stay with Mother. I cannot, I cannot leave her." She was so absolutely bereft. And they had just bought a house, but it wasn't all paid for yet and he said, "I've got to work to topay for the house for Mother." And I can remember how I cried and cried when I left for Wheaton.
SHUSTER: I'll bet.
ELLIOTT: But...and so...I used to date, but it never, you know, didn't mean much to me. Fellows would ask me to go out, you know, and so I'd, sure, you know, go, but didn't...didn't mean anything too much to me. And finally just in my senior year I...I will tell you frankly, I became interested in a young man, but he...he got interested in another girl, and so I said, "Okay, that's the way I... The Lord doesn't want that then." And so I but as soon as I was interested in somebody else, then I wrote to Ken and I said, "Ken, there's no hope at all that I will not be going to China. There's no hope that I'll be able to come there and marry you. So if you're interested in anybody, you go ahead and marry." And...So, he married my best friend.
ELLIOTT: And so I was very, very happy for them.
SHUSTER: From what you could observe at Wheaton aside from your own experiences, were there generally healthy situation as far as dating was concerned,...there was...?
ELLIOTT: Oh, yes, I think so. It was really a very healthy situation. There were people dating quite a lot.
SHUSTER: Um. That about takes care of all my Wheaton questions unless you have something you want to add about those first years at the College.
ELLIOTT: I don't think so. I think that I just loved Wheaton, that was all. [Laughs]
SHUSTER: Did you...you graduated in 1930?
SHUSTER: And did you go directly to China then?
ELLIOTT: No, I, I, I still.... I owed $100.
SHUSTER: Despite all that work?
ELLIOTT: Despite all that work. And so I stayed and I worked and earned that money, and then I was free to go.
SHUSTER: You sold Bibles again?
ELLIOTT: No, I just cleaned people's houses, and I babysat, and I I didn't want to go into anything that would be...
ELLIOTT: ...something that would be too engrossing, and so I just wanted it it to get me through so that I'd earn enough... There was one family that I...I went to I think they lived in Glen Ellyn, and they...I babysat and I did a lot of work with them, andtheywhen I told them that I was planning to go to Philadelphia to go to the candidate, they said, [Background noise] "Why, Ruth, you don't have enough money. You haven't even finished quite paying for your college." And I said, "Well, if this is of the Lord, He'll provide." And so so thenwhen I in my senior, I knew it was my se...I think it was my senior year that I was going to the Gospel Tab...
SHUSTER: Oh, yes.
ELLIOTT: ...and...and theytheyoh, a lot of students went to the Gospel Tab. And so I, and I loved that, and...and then the next year, of course, I was still going there to the Gospel Tab, and so when they heard that I wanted to go to Philadelphia, they[the Gospel Tab] gave me a gift. And so...so, and this family, you know, said, "Why, you can't get to..." And I said, "Oh, the Lord will provide." And when I went and told them, they said, "Awh! We're absolutely amazed." I said, "I'm not. The Lord provides." [Laughs]
SHUSTER: Was there a...a group of students who wentin a car to the Gospel Tabernacle each week, or went by train, or...?
ELLIOTT: We, h, we just walked. It was just down to the...
SHUSTER: Oh, so this wasn't the Gospel Tabernacle in Chicago?
ELLIOTT: No, no. This was at Wheaton... they...they met upstairs, where the Chinese church is meeting now...
SHUSTER: Oh, yes.
ELLIOTT: Oh, in the...
SHUSTER: In Mason Hall.
ELLIOTT: Mason. yeah.
SHUSTER: Did you by any chance ever go into the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle?
ELLIOTT: I don't remember. I went to the Moody Church, I know, and visited Moody. But I...I don't remember. [Train noise in background]
SHUSTER: That was with Paul Rader.
ELLIOTT: Oh. Yeah, I think I did go. I remember hearing Paul Rader. So probably I did. I know that, I know that we three went in to Moody and we sang at Moody one time, and so.
SHUSTER: Do you remember Paul Rader's preaching?
SHUSTER: How would he compare with say, Dr. Buswell?
ELLIOTT: Oh, he was much more well, I don't know, I won't say enthusiastic, but...
ELLIOTT: Vi...Yes, very very definitely, and, you know, demonstrative, and, you know, waving his arms and that kind of thing.
SHUSTER: Told stories?
ELLIOTT: Yes. He was very, very interesting.
SHUSTER: When did you actually make your application to CIM to be a missionary?
ELLIOTT: Um. Dr. Glover came just before I graduated.
SHUSTER: In 1930.
ELLIOTT: In 1930. And he, I had already written to the mission, and so when he came and talked with me then and asked me definitely if I really wanted to apply to the mission, and I said yes, I did. And so then I started a regular formal application. You have to fill out...and you have to get an awful lot of information to them before they will accept you. And you have to have different people recommend you, and you have to have a very, very fine physical exam, you know, all that before they will even let you come as a candidate.
SHUSTER: I see.
SHUSTER: Did you have to go before some kind of board, too, and...
ELLIOTT: We were there...
SHUSTER: ...orally answer questions?
ELLIOTT: ...we...we had candidate school, and they... it lasted for...now it only lasts six weeks, but for us I believe it was about two or three months.
And what, what did you do at the school?
ELLIOTT: As soon as we graduated I was there that summer. I mean...
SHUSTER: And what did you study? What did you do? What...?
ELLIOTT: Well, we had to study about China and about methods, some kind of...something about methods of work, as I recall.
SHUSTER: What kind of methods?
ELLIOTT: Well,...we had to realize that these people were not...not only not Christian but they had never even heard of anything like that, and they were idol worshipers. Well, I knew that from childhood. But the idea of trying to reach idol worshipers with the gospel, we had to just be introduced to even a lot of those who were there. We had 20, I think 24 of us there as candidates at that time, and so it was there would be some who weren’t hadn’t been missionaries' children, and so they [laughs] you know, they didn't know anything really very much about China, and so they tried to inform. And but it was also to inform about the mission itself. We had to learn about...about the work of the mission and...and what we would be expected to do about language study. You know, they have, you have to pass exams, and you have to do language study for years, because it takes a good long time to really be a good Chinese speaker. And we had to be able to read and write, and we were told that we would have to learn that, and all these things that they just tried to introduce us to so that we would know what...what we were getting into.
SHUSTER: You say it lasted a couple of months?
ELLIOTT: Yes. And then at the end of the time, then...they said, "Now you're not accepted, until the very end." And then they told who were accepted and who were not, and there were some that were not.
SHUSTER: Well, what did they base that on?
ELLIOTT: Some, well, they just felt that they weren't really called of the Lord to go out under the CIM.
SHUSTER: Just from the way they had been in class, or the...?
ELLIOTT: And also...
SHUSTER: ...questions they raised, or...?
ELLIOTT: ...the way that they had answered themselves. You see, in talking with them, they began to doubt whether they should. And it was really more on the basis of them themselves that they felt "No, I can't." You see, because this was a faith mission, and some of them were used to...they were, their parents were, their father was a pastor, we'll say; he was on a salary. He expected money every, every month. And...and then to to think that they were going to go out under a faith mission, where you had to trust the Lord for every cent; well, some didn't want that. They wanted to go out under a mission where they would have, they'd know that they would be paid. So some of them just voluntarily said, "We can't go out under the CIM."
SHUSTER: After you were accepted, at the end of your candidate...at the end of the school time, did you leave right away for China?
ELLIOTT: Almost. Very soon. had to, you know, of course, you had to buy an outfit and that was one another thing that they told us, what would be expected for us to take.
SHUSTER: What kind of things did you have to take?
ELLIOTT: Well, of course, you have to have an outfit of clothes for every season of the year, and you couldn't buy shoes upcountry so you'd have to lay in quite a few pairs of shoes. And...
SHUSTER: How many pairs would you take? a dozen or...?
ELLIOTT: Yeah, about. And...and then we had to be sure that we had a lightweight coat, well, you know, and a hea...good warm coa...winter coat, and a raincoat, and things like that, you know, galoshes and stuff. And then we were expected, too, to have tablecloths and sheets and blankets and pillows and kitchen utensils and all this kind of thing, because, you see, we were going to go...every one of us were to be sent to open a new work. The 200 were to open new work in a new un...formerly unopened station. And so we knew...that's why we had to take all of the things...usually when you go into another place that had been o...previously occupied by missionaries, there would be furniture and there would be some pots and pans and things, you know, but when you go to a new station, you're the first ones. You have to be prepared. And so we had to take all of the...and of course, we had to have silverware, and we had to have kitchen utensils of all different kinds and things. And they said, "Now when you go to China, you'll use Chinese kuo [?] ( a big, round pan, you know, that with that you burn charcoal or wo...can burn wood under it), but if you want to have anything that, you know, that you like fixed American style, well, you'll have to have the pots and pans to do the...to do it." And so...and then we have egg beaters and things like that that they wouldn't have in China and that kind of thing that we had to, we had to learn to take. And then when we came home, we had to assemble all of that, and that took quite a few weeks to get all of that together, and we had to trust the Lord to to send us the money for it. And, you know, people were so kind, and they all helped us out, and so we were able to get the equipment we needed. And so then...[Slapping noise in background]
SHUSTER: Did you crate it up and send it ahead of you?
SHUSTER: Did you crate it all up and send it ahead of you?
ELLIOTT: no, we...we had trunks. And we put all our stuff in trunks, and then we left from Chicago together...[Much noise near microphone] I think I have a thing that says about our...No, I didn't bring it; I thought I did. But announced in the paper about our leaving from Wheaton, the three of us from our class. You see, we all graduated in the class of '30, but we went out in '31. And so we all left together, and there were oh, I think there were 20 or 22 of us who left on that train from Chicago and went to Vancouver....
SHUSTER: All from CIM?
ELLIOTT: All from CIM, new workers going out. And we left, went to Vancouver, and then we sailed on the Empress of Russia and we went to Japan, stopped in Japan before we got to Shanghai, and...
SHUSTER: Did you spend much time in Japan?
ELLIOTT: Oh, we were there for about...we had long enough when we got there, in we...some people went to Tokyo, but we wanted to go to see the...oh dear! The big Buddha; it's on the...
SHUSTER: Oh, Kyoto?
ELLIOTT: ...coast of... No, it wasn't Kyoto; it was.... Begins with H [pauses] oh, I can't think of it. Anyway, we didn't go to Tokyo that time, but when we came back, I went to Tokyo. And...
SHUSTER: What were your impressions of Japan this first trip?
ELLIOTT: Well, we knew then that that was real idol worship because we saw this perfectly huge, enormous idol of Buddha. And.... Hiroshima? Hiroshima, yes, it's the Hiroshima idol. it's very well known. Oh, yes, and then we did have...we were there three days, and we went up to Tokyo. And we were served a dinner, an...where they... we had to sit on mats on the floor, and they had a girl who came in and had a...a...a charcoal stove at the end of the table, and she prepared it right there in front of us, And it was served to us right there while we were.... 'course they brought in rice that was co...was already cooked, but then they would have this that she had alrea...she fixed it right there and served it to us on top of the rice. And so...
SHUSTER: Were the people in Japan friendly?
ELLIOTT: Yes, they were, very friendly. But when I came back, I went shopping...
SHUSTER: That was in '46?
ELLIOTT: No, I didn't come back until '39. there were people on the ship who asked...asked me to go shopping with them because they used the Chinese number system, the...the a new shortened form of writing numbers, and they were using that on the...the clothes and anything they labeled with the...and so when a lady on the ship who was with me wanted to buy a jacket or something, why they told her, "Oh, 12 dollars." And I said, "Why are you charging her 12 dollars? The price is $5.75." And they said, "How do you know?"
ELLIOTT: And I said, "Why, it says so right there on the price tag." [Laughs]
SHUSTER: They didn't realize you could read...?
ELLIOTT: I could read the price tags, you see, and then all of the signs on the banks and all that were in Chinese. You see, they...they used all the titles and everything, all the big signs were Chinese characters. And so I would know that this was a bank and that was a drug store and that was a department store and all that because the characters were the same. They aren't pronounced the same at all, but the characters were the same.
SHUSTER: Common alphabet.
ELLIOTT: No, it's not an alphabet.
SHUSTER: Common pictographs.
ELLIOTT: No, no. Each...each letter, each...each word you have to memorize. Oh! Chinese! If you don't memorize...well, at the very, very least...to be able to read the Bible you have to memorize at least 5000 words, and preferably ten thousand. If you wanted to read all the names of people, you know, the genealogies, you have to...you...you plain memorize words. [Background noise]
SHUSTER: So when you left Japan then you went on to Shanghai?
ELLIOTT: Yes, Uh huh.
SHUSTER: Was that your first time to Shanghai, or had you been there as a child?
ELLIOTT: As a child we'd been in Shanghai, yes.
SHUSTER: Had it changed since you'd last seen it?
ELLIOTT: Oh, yes, because...the old city...that was before the International Settlement had been built, and everybody lived in the Wusung[?] area in Shanghai, all the foreign missions were there. And then the International Settlement in the mean time had been formed and the China Inland Mission had just built. They sold their old property--they, the Wusung [?] property, and had just built the new mission home with new property on Sinza Road, and in the International Settlement. And, oh, that was a beautiful building. People thought it was too posh, but... I mean two buildings. One was the administration building...they were both...I see, they the International Settlement made a limit of thirteen stories was the highest that no that any building could be built.
SHUSTER: Why was that?
ELLIOTT: Floods and not good foundational...it was...
SHUSTER: Structure? Foundational structure?
ELLIOTT: Yeah. The...the ground had been too of...I mean, pref...the river changed, you know...
SHUSTER: Its bed [unclear]
ELLIOTT: ...and so...so some...some of the land wasn’t solid, and so they said, "Well, rather than have any trouble, we'll just limit. Thirteen stories is the highest." So our buildings...we had two buildings. One was the mission home building, and the other was the administration building. And...
SHUSTER: Did you stay there long?
ELLIOTT: No. Just a, just for a few days. And we had to get some things Chinese things to take up country. we had to buy cloth to use for making Chinese clothes for us because when we got up to Yangchow to the language school, we would have to wear Chinese clothes. And so we had to have the material, and then when we went up country, then they had tailors make us our Chinese gowns, and so we had to wear the...the Chinese gowns while we were in language school.
SHUSTER: And this was your first trip back to China since you were about ten years old?
SHUSTER: What impressions did this leave?
ELLIOTT: I was so amazed that Shanghai was so posh, you know.
ELLIOTT: I mean, you know, beautiful wide streets and cars and streetcars and lovely hotels with beautiful restaurants and...and the...the chocolate shop, and [Laughs] things like that that we, you know, before everything had been Chinese and you would just go and eat with Chinese chopsticks and you know...and here, all this was...was just entirely a new thing to me.
SHUSTER: This was all up in the International Settlement?
ELLIOTT: Yes, uh huh. And then they had a lovely big park with lovely trees and tennis courts.
ELLIOTT: We had a tennis court on...on the...the mission...the mission home had a tennis court behind. We had a big garden behind. And we had children's toy...you know, we...things to play on there, swings and teeter-totters and things. And so it was really a beautiful place, and I was amazed that we would go to a something as nice as that.
ELLIOTT: But when we went up country, we had to group the river to Chinkiang [?]...oh, my sister Margaret came and met me in Shanghai, and we jabbered and jabbered and jabbered...
ELLIOTT: ...catching up on everything. And then I hoped, you see, you don't get assigned exactly where you're going to be until after you have arrived in...in China, and I...I you don't get the assignment until after you've gone to language school. And then you go back to Shanghai, and they interview you and ask you where you would like to go, but they will tell you where you are to go. Because we were of the 200, and so we would be assigned to a new place. But...
SHUSTER: Did they team you with an experienced missionary? Or did they just send a...a new missionary to a new field?
ELLIOTT: Well, they...they asked me,they asked me with whom I would...afterward when I was talking with the head of the mission... he asked me when who I would like to work with. I said, "Oh, you know I want to be with Margaret."
ELLIOTT: And he said, "I thought so." And you know she had she had only she had been in China just...she had been in China two years. And so then I had...had to have the one year language school, and so then we wouldn't, so Margaret would have had three years experience before we would go to work in a...a new place.
SHUSTER: Who actually made the assignments?
ELLIOTT: Well, they discussed it in...they, and they prayed a lot about it, and it was...people would write. They asked everybody to write "Where would you think would be a good place to open work?" And so all the different missionaries wrote in and suggested different places. And so in Anwhei they...
SHUSTER: Well, who took these different suggestions and matched them up with people?
ELLIOTT: It was there in Shanghai. The....
SHUSTER: Was there a council, or...?
ELLIOTT: Yes, the Council. The Council met. And...
SHUSTER: And who made up the Council?
ELLIOTT: Well, the all the leaders of the mission who were there in Shanghai were the Council.
SHUSTER: I see. And these were elected from different fields, or they were...
ELLIOTT: [Train noise in background] They were chosen. They weren't...I mean, when the...the setup of the mission was...it wasn't it wasn't elected. It was chosen by...well, from the very beginning Hudson Taylor chose different ones to come and help him, and then it was passed on like that, that different ones would be in charge of.... They had a financial secretary, they had a you know, different secretaries for different areas, and people who had known that area would be...and so they...they would come and be on the Council to help to counsel about that different...because we had work all over China. And so they had different ones who...come to be on the Council.
SHUSTER: Was there one person who was the...
SHUSTER: ...executive for the...
SHUSTER: ...Director for the entire mission?
SHUSTER: Who was that when you first came to China?
ELLIOTT: I was just trying to think. You know, I got... I was, I...[Sound of shuffling papers] Terrible! I remember talking with him, and...and I just read about it. And I read the letter about who I had talked with and do you think I can think of it now?
SHUSTER: [Chuckles] That's the way it always is.
ELLIOTT: Just...I can't think of it. Mr. Gibb.
SHUSTER: Mr. Gibb.
ELLIOTT: Yeah. [Laughter] Just brought this up [unclear]. He was so nice.
SHUSTER: How large was the Council? How many people?
ELLIOTT: Oh, I suppose 8, 10, 8, something like that. I've forgotten exactly.
SHUSTER: So there was the Council in Shanghai, and then there were...
ELLIOTT: Then we had...
SHUSTER: ...regional councils?
ELLIOTT: Uh huh. Yes. We had superintendents of each province where we worked. [Train whistle] And...and then different people we’d have, once a year we had provincial meetings [Train noise in background], and but they had in...they'd have...we have senior workers and junior workers. And...
SHUSTER: What's the difference?
ELLIOTT: Senior workers are people who've been there at least five years, and then it would only be supposed be that senior workers were in charge of the of the work of the city or of the place where they were, and their junior, any other workers were under them. And the senior worker could tell you what to do, and...
SHUSTER: But if there were more than one senior worker in a city, there was still only one person who was in charge?
ELLIOTT: Yes, right.
SHUSTER: I see. Were there ever meetings of all of China for CIM? You said there were provinc...provincial conferences. Was there ever all China conferences?
ELLIOTT: Well, no, because it would be impossible for everybody to gather. Now we had a mount... you know, the Kuling mountain resort, and the CIM had two homes up there, And they would have CIM meetings of all the missionaries up there, but it wasn't like a council meeting. It was just...
SHUSTER: Sort of...
ELLIOTT: ...we were up there for vacation, you know. And then there was Ki Kung San in Honan, and they had the groups of missionaries who came there. But...
SHUSTER: Was that another resort?
ELLIOTT: Another resort.
SHUSTER: How was that spelled, G...?
ELLIOTT: K-I K-U-N-G S-H-A-N. Ki Kung Shan. And...that was in Honan...And they...they would meet there. That a lot of the Scandinavian Alliance people were working there in...in Honan. And they had the an American school at Ki Kung Shan, too, as well as the American school at Kuling. So....
SHUSTER: How was the work of the mission financed?
ELLIOTT: Well, the this the Council would, I mean, it's always by faith. We never...but we would pray, and they would let us know that finances were short and if that we would have to cut back on and economize in every way possible and pray that the Lord would send in more funds if we were to do more...to do something different. So everybody would pray, and the Lord would send in what was needed. But there were times when we had to tighten our belts. [Laughs]
SHUSTER: Did the mission raise any of its own food or produce any of its own materials or did...did they every sell ma...sell clothes or food in order to help finance the work?
ELLIOTT: Not...not officially, no. But now in Shucheng we had a big compound. And, the compound is a...a p...place with a wall around it, you know, and we have a...a gate and...and had a gatekeeper and...and...but Shucheng was a...a station that was started in 1904. And so when they bought the property, at that time property was cheap, and so they got a good-sized piece of property. And so when I came there, there was a big garden and there was a, a...behind the house there was bamboo, a bamboo grove, and then at the side was a lovely lawn and big trees and lovely birds and...and...but the other side was...we, we had...we put in...it was all, we'd have the boy, our houseboy, dig it up and then we had we'd plant vegetables and so we had fresh vegetables, but they would buy...we wouldn't plant...we'd plant lettuce and things that we couldn't buy locally.
ELLIOTT: And then we also planted strawberries. And then the first lady who was who was on that compound planted mulberry trees, and so we had mulberries. And so we had a lot of things...the reason that you hu...mulberries, not so much for the berries, but for the leaves, because...
SHUSTER: For silk?
ELLIOTT: ...they are for silk. And so one year I...I raised silk worms...
ELLIOTT: ...just to see what the process is.
SHUSTER: How'd you do?
ELLIOTT: And oh! was it a lot of work! But...
SHUSTER: [Laughs] Did you get any silk out of it finally?
ELLIOTT: Oh, lots! Lots of silk. And do you know that one silkworm's, on one cocoon, it would it would go at least...I mean, it was at least a block and a half long. [Train noise in background] On one, just that much silk, on one. And but at the first, I...a lady, th...this lady who was...I...sh...I had asked her, "How do you, how do you do silkworms?" She said, "Do you want me to show you?"
ELLIOTT: And I said, "Yes." She said, "All right. Here. Take this." And what it was...was a piece of paper that had, (it was only a...a little thing about eight inches square) and it was covered with silkworm eggs. And she said, "Fold this up. Put it in your pocket." Well, you see, Chinese...a Chinese gown, the women's gowns open at the neck and down the side...
SHUSTER: Uh huh.
ELLIOTT: ...and then at the side, and at the side is your, underneath, is a pocket. And that's right next to you, and so it's warm. And so she said, "You leave it there for about a week and then the eggs will start to hatch." And so and then she said...so I opened it out and there were some. She said, "You've got to take a feather to lift these tiny little worms off, and...and then take some mulberry leaves, chop them real, real, real fine...
SHUSTER: Chop the worms?
ELLIOTT: No, no!
SHUSTER: Chop the leaves.
ELLIOTT: The leaves. Because they, they...when they're so tiny, they only eat from the edge, and so then I just had a little flat basket about this big, and I put the leaves in there and put the silkworms on it, and...and then she said, "Now you...not..." they didn't all hatch yet, so she said, "Put it back in your pocket." So and then the next day I...I took them off with the feathers and...and added, made it a little bit bigger, and cut up a few more leaves, and put 'em in, and every day I'd get fresh leaves and put in. Well, within...within a week these first worms were getting bigger and bigger, and getting, you know, inch long or more, and then she said, "Now you've got to divide them and put them, and make...get bigger baskets." So we got bigger baskets, about this big around, and...
SHUSTER: Why did you divide them? Because they were getting crowded?
ELLIOTT: Because.... Uh huh. Because they wanted to eat more. They were very, very hungry. And so then we'd have to...I I'd have to go out and she...and I said, "Now, I'm gonna do it. So don't you...
ELLIOTT: ...you have to...I don't want you to work at it." But she s...she would just tell me, "Go, get more leaves." So I'd have to go out and pick, pick, pick, pick, pick, pick leaves and bring them in and cut them. And then she said, "You don't have to cut them as fine now, but you have to cut them because they always like the edge. They won't eat unless they have the edge." And so then I would put them into these, and then we divided them more and more and more and more, and then as they got bigger, they would get three inches long or so, and...and they weren't full grown yet and so then oh, boy! I would have to go two or three times a day out to get the leaves and chop and quickly put them on th...on these, and then we'd have to keep dividing, and we got so that we were using baskets this big...
SHUSTER: [Laughs] Gigantic, yeah.
ELLIOTT: ...you know, just narrow, flat baskets. Enormous. They filled our livingroom, our dining room,...
ELLIOTT: ...and the big, wide hall that we had, and they were all over everything...I mean, the...all these big baskets. The last two...day and night they ate so much that I was in and out, in and out...
ELLIOTT: ...going out and picking out, picking leaves and chopping and qu...putting them on and then she said, "Now, they're big enough so that you don't even have to chop. You just put them on." But by the time I would finish going around and putting leaves on each one of those baskets, I didn't have any more left, and these were ready to eat again, and they had eaten them all up, and I'd have to go rushing out, and I had to go out in the middle of the night and pick...pick mulberry leaves, and...
SHUSTER: Otherwise they'd die if they didn't have them?
ELLIOTT: Yep, they wouldn't wouldn't go really get real big. They got about that big. And then she said, "Now, when they start halfway, going halfway up and just putting their heads around in a circle, then they're ready to germinate." And so then she told me [Train noise in background] how to tell the male from the female, and she said, "Now, you...just choose the nicest, the biggest, the nicest ones and put a male and female on a basket and leave them and (just these little baskets)...
SHUSTER: Uh huh.
ELLIOTT: ...and so I did that. And she said, "You'll only need about twenty pairs, because all you want is... well maybe not even that many I think because all you want is just for the eggs."
ELLIOTT: But then all the others were starting to mate anyway. But this was just for the eggs that we were putting these separately, the biggest ones. And so they were mating all over the place [chuckles] but as soon as they started to get ready to spin, then we had to take them and in the hall we had, a things for we just put wires and they would start and they would make a hook over the wire and then they would start to spin.
SHUSTER: Now did both male and female spin?
ELLIOTT: No, just females. And so we would... and we had literally hundreds that were spinning and....
SHUSTER: It must have been tough to live in the house in those days.
ELLIOTT: [Laughs] Well, it didn't...you..really...very...very quick, that last few...it was only about three or four days that it was like this, real a lot of things. Everything happened so fast. Then, as soon as they spun, then we...we took bags and put all of these cocoons in the a, a bag
ELLIOTT: And we took it down to the silk shop and so I told her, "What we make, that’s yours, because you're the one who told me how to so it" and so they had women who were...they would take the silk worm, silk cocoons and drop them in warm water and immediately it, the silk would start to come off and they would take maybe eight or depending on how many strands they wanted and they would take them just from that thing of water and they had a spinning wheel and the women would just take that and start turning the spinning wheel and they would undo, as in the water, they would undo, turn the spinning wheel and turn around and around and around as it came off and they would be making it so that it would twist, into a thread.
SHUSTER: Uh huh.
ELLIOTT: Well, after it came off the big wheel, they had the end going to a little one and it was, they had that one so as to make it so it would twist the thread. And, but that was when I was so amazed. I said, "You mean that they are still going around and around?" I said, "How many times do you turn that wheel?" She said, "Oh, at least a hundred times." And...and so then they said, "Yes, it will go...the length of one will go past that corner and up to half way the next corner." That long for one silkworm. So, I learned that way, anyway.
SHUSTER: Do you remember what you made from all that silk?
ELLIOTT: Oh, I didn't do it. That was sold. The silk..the man in charge of this place sold...I mean we sold it to them so I could give her the money because I didn't want to...I mean... he would do it for us and give it back to us.
SHUSTER: I see.
ELLIOTT: He would only buy it completely.
SHUSTER: Uh huh.
ELLIOTT: And that was alright with me too.
SHUSTER: And you used the money to help support the mission, to help buy supplies....
ELLIOTT: No, no I gave this money to this woman, this Chinese woman.
SHUSTER: Oh, I see, the one who trained you....
ELLIOTT: The one who trained me...
SHUSTER: ...the one who taught you.
ELLIOTT: ...because she had come over there quite a lot and she had spent a lot of time....
SHUSTER: Did you later make silk yourself, from what...using what you picked up from her?
ELLIOTT: No, I never did it again. Oh nooooo, I was never going to do that again [chuckles]. But she got, you know, I guess.... She said, "Don't you want to keep the, the, the eggs, you know that were laid on that, you that special one?" I said, "Nooooo thank you, I'll never do this again." But I wanted to...
ELLIOTT: ...just for the experience.
ELLIOTT: Because it was....
SHUSTER: We'll almost out of tape.
SHUSTER: I wanted to ask you about one more thing before we end for today. of course you came over in 1931.
SHUSTER:: And the CIM headquarters were apparently almost brand new. And the war broke out shortly afterwards. What happened to the CIM headquarters?
ELLIOTT: Well, praise the Lord, they were not bombed. And but later, very much later, after we had to leave China the communists took it over and it became a hospital and it still is a hospital...
SHUSTER: Still standing
ELLIOTT: We just.... Last night we went and heard a man at Bethel Pres, Presbyterian church. And he was with David Adeney and the OMF group that went. And so they went and saw, they were allowed to go into these OMF, CIM properties and take a look and he said, "It is now a hospital." Well, we knew before I left that it had been taken over by the communists and they had turned it into a hospital.
SHUSTER: Is there any kind of a plaque or indication in the building now that it was originally the CIM headquarters?
ELLIOTT: I don't know, because I didn't go and but David knew, David Adeney, and of course he knew where the CIM headquarters were and....
SHUSTER: Well, we're almost at the end now, so I think we'll end it for today.
SHUSTER: Thank you very much.
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