This is a complete and accurate transcript of the first oral history interview of Helen Nowack Frame (Collection 255, T1) by Paul Ericksen in the Frames' home in Chicago, Illinois. No spoken words have been omitted, except for any non-English words or phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. Foreign terms which are not commonly understood appear in italics. In very few cases words were too unclear to be distinguished. If the transcriber was not completely sure of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted after the word or phrase in question. If the speech was inaudible or indistinguishable, "[unclear]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. The interviewer would interject "Um-hmm" or "Un-huh" occasionally, but these were not transcribed unless they came at a definite break in the conversation. The transcribers have not attempted to phonetically replicate English dialects but have instead entered the standard English word the speaker was attempting to say. Readers should remember that this is a transcription of spoken English, which of course follows a different rhythm and rule than written English. Place names in non-Western alphabets are spelled in the transcript in the old or new transliteration form according to how the speaker pronounced them. Thus, Peking is used instead of Beijing if that is how the interviewee pronounced it. Chinese terms and phrases which could be understood were spelled as they were pronounced with some attempt made to identify the accepted transliterated form which corresponds to it. During this interview, noise from trucks, automobiles and airplanes can be heard almost constantly and so these notations were not included in the text.
... 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 sentence.
( ) Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
[ ] Words in brackets are comments made by the transcriber.
This transcription was made by Janyce H. Nasgowitz and Greg Thompson and was completed in April 1995.
Collection 255, T1. Interview of Helen Nowack Frame by Paul A. Ericksen, September 9, 1983.
ERICKSEN: This is an interview with Helen Nowack Frame by Paul Ericksen for the Missionary Sources Collection of Wheaton College. This interview took place at the Frames' home in Chicago, Illinois, on September 9, 1983, at ten A.M. [Pauses, airplane noise] Well, Mrs. Frame, I'd like to begin by just getting a general overview of the things that you've been involved in since your Wheaton years. Can you tell me when...what years you were at Wheaton?
FRAME: I was...I went in '26, 1926, and finished in 1930, graduated.
ERICKSEN: And when did you join China Inland Mission?
FRAME: I joined...I went to Moody for two terms after that, and while at Moody I applied to the mission as they were sending out the two hundred at that time [China Inland Mission (CIM) set a goal of recruiting two hundred missionaries in the early 1930's].
ERICKSEN: And can you quickly identify the different places that you worked in China with C.I.M.?
FRAME: Well, our first term was nine years...almost nine years, and we were first at language school. Ray was at the Anking language school, and I was at the Yangchow language school because we were not married then. And later we were des...both designated to Honan and we were married there. And we worked in different towns in Honan. I was single for four years first while in Honan, and then we were married. And the last four or five years Ray and I worked together at Shekichen in western Honan.
ERICKSEN: What sort of work were you doing?
FRAME: Ray was sort of overseeing the work in the outstations, and pastoring in the main...no, they had a pastor in the main...in the main church in...in Shekichen where we lived and often my work was to go out into the country with...sometimes with my sister, when she was there, or with others. And we taught the phonetic script to women who had never been to school all their lives, and in a month's time, with the help of the phonetic script, they were able to read the Bible, because it's...we called it the quick characters in Chi...in Honan there. And so we...we enjoyed that, and these women really were very energetic, studying hard, and, with their children [laughs] crying and fussing around. But they...they really worked hard. They were women who really wanted to learn to read.
ERICKSEN: Where did you go after your...you completed your work in Honan.
FRAME: We came on furlough and were just ready to go back when the Japanese war broke out. So we were stranded at home for five...four or five years and at first Ray deputized for the mission up in Canada. And then the last year and a half, he took on a pastorate in Kelowna, B.C. [British Columbia]. And then, while we were in Kelowna, we...we had the news that we could go back. The war was over and we went back on a troop ship. We were the first ones to go back to Shanghai, and from there Ray was designated to Anking, where we had a combined language school. Before that, the men's and women's language schools were separate, lest the men and women fall in love, I guess [laughs]. And so we had a combined language school and my husband was in charge. And I think there were new missionaries who came in at sixteen different times in that year or two, because so many were waiting to go to China as missionaries. And we were there about five years. There were missionaries from all...all over Europe and...and...as well as America and England. Then....
ERICKSEN: So,.... I'm sorry, go ahead.
FRAME: Then we moved to Shanghai because of the communism, and felt it was safer there. And we were there about two years or more until the mission decided to evacuate and [have] everyone leave China. That was in the December of...about December of '50. And in '51, most of the Chi...most of the missionaries left China. And most of them went to their homelands in order to find out where the Lord would have them next, because the mission had decided to carry on rather than fold up. And they decided to meet the needs of other places in Southeast Asia. And instead of going home, we went to Philippines rather than coming back to America or Canada, because Ray had been sent as one of...of a team with Steven Knights to the Philippines, where they surveyed. And there was a Chinese Christian school starting there and he was...they were very glad to have him [Frames voice begins to fade, the machine appears to click, and voices get louder] come there and help teach. And so that was our opening at that time. We had to have a...someone to sponsor us to get into the Philippines. And so we went and taught in this Grace Christian High School, and Ray was there. And also he became pastor of a church that was started, the Grace Gospel Church, and he was pastor of that for about six or seven years. And then he felt led to start a Bible school together with some Christian brethren from different churches, and the Bible School of the Philippines was begun, which later became the Bible Seminary of the Philippines, which is still going on.
ERICKSEN: And how long were you in the Philippines?
FRAME: We were in the Philippines altogether, counting furloughs, of course, was twenty-six years.
ERICKSEN: Until...that would be 19 fif...77.
FRAME: [As Ericksen is still speaking] That would be...we...we retired in 1977.
ERICKSEN: Well, that's quite a few years of missionary work [chuckles]. Why don't we...let's go into a little more detail now. What can you remember about your childhood days, growing up in China? Remember much of that?
FRAME: Well, we lived in an inland city where they had never seen foreigners before. And my father and mother had a really rough time to begin with. And I was very, very ill when I was born, because mother had malaria and they were living in a very poor place. But later on, they were able to get a better place, and build a nice house in the city (that was in the suburbs originally), and we enjoyed our life there. They had a...Miss [Martha] Pohnert had started a girls' school there and the requirement for this girls' school was that the parents would not bind their girls' feet. And if...if they were willing for that, these Christians, and...they...they were able to send their girls to this school. And we used to go over and play with them, we remember. And we used to take walks with our parents around the city wall, or around part of the city wall, almost every night. Dad used to love to take this walk. And it was one place we sort of got away from people, I guess. And the Lord blessed. My dad was a...a good missionary, and he really worked hard and studied his Bible and loved the Chinese people. And my mother, too. When I was about eleven, Mother took us, my sister Esther and I (Ruth was already at Wheaton College)...my mother took Esther and me to...to the railroad, or all the way up to school. And the first night out we...they said the bandits were coming. We thought they might be after us. And so we had to get up in the middle of the night and crawl over the neighbor's wall without them knowing it, and sit outside for two hours [laughs]. It was winter and we were very frightened. But the Lord took care of us, and they...they weren't after us. After a while they left, and we had a safe trip to school. When I was fourteen, my mother...my own mother died at the station. We were at boarding school then and so we didn't even hear about it until she was gone and buried because the postal service wasn't that fast. And we missed our mother very much. We used to enjoy the summers up at Jigong because that was where...when Mother used to come up and be with us for the summer, and Dad would come for one month for his vacation. And we had a swimming pool right below our house. And we used to run down there every day and enjoy the swimming pool. Men in the morning, and girls in the afternoon, and the next day vice-versa. [Both laugh] We had to be very strict in China because they were very strict on...on those things. And Dad always used to make us learn a verse of Scripture before we went swimming, so we learned lots of verses when we were kids [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Is Jigong...?
FRAME: Jigong is a summer resort that really the missionaries developed and it became a...a...quite a...quite a big community. In the summers, sometimes my dad would teach the Bible class in the community church. Everybody forgot their denominations there pretty well and...and so he taught them. My mother was very much loved by the others, too.
ERICKSEN: You referred to the city that your dad...that your family lived in. What city was that?
FRAME: [As Ericksen is still speaking] Miyang, that was Miyang Shin [?]. Sometimes they say Biyang. But you could pronounce it either way. [Begins to speak as Ericksen asks question.]
ERICKSEN: Did you...were there other missionaries in the town...in the city at the same time you were there?
FRAME: [As Ericksen is speaking] Well, just...just once there was a couple, Larsons, for just a short time, but...and then there were some...some.... Miss [Martha] Pohnert was there, and there was a Miss Taylor and Miss Boyer who...but many of them moved. And then there was my stepmother and my stepmother is still living out here at the Central Baptist Home. She's ninety-four now, and she was a very good stepmother to us.
ERICKSEN: So then there probably weren't very many North American children to play with. Did you...?
FRAME: [As Ericksen is still speaking] No. No, there...there were no other missionaries.
ERICKSEN: Did you...did you pretty much play by yourself or did you have Chinese playmates?
FRAME: We'd...we'd play over in the school compound and...and, I guess, maybe our servants' children sometimes were there. I don't know. But after we were school age, of course, we weren't there much except at Christmas time. And [in] the summer, Mother came up, so there were only a few...few weeks at home at Christmas time.
ERICKSEN: Before you went away to school, what sort of things did you do just for fun as children?
FRAME: Before we went away? I remember we used to play croquet. We had a...a yard where we played croquet and...and sometimes, when the Chinese...at Chinese New Year, we used to go out on our back porch and love to see the...the men on stilts and the parades coming by. They made a great to-do. But we were more or less isolated. Oh, there was another family for a while with us, and that was the Roberts, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Roberts. They were with us, and then she died. And after his furlough, he...he did not come back to our station, but their two little children were there for a while. I'd forgotten that.
ERICKSEN: What mission did your father go to China with?
FRAME: He was independent because he was over age, and over thirty in those days they didn't send folks out. And he had been a missionary. He and Mother had been a missionary in...in Tennessee for a few years before they went to China, and so they...they.... And father also had had T.B., but the Lord healed him of that. And so he felt that there would be no mission board that would accept him, so he wanted to trust the Lord.
ERICKSEN: Didn't he start a mission then, too?
FRAME: Well, he called it the Ebenezer Mission, but not...it didn't develop to a great extent. He called it the Ebenezer Mission, yes.
ERICKSEN: Can you tell me a little about the circumstances of your conversion?
FRAME: Well, it's a little indefinite really. I...I was baptized when I was fourteen by my father up in the swimming pool up at Jigong. And I believe I loved the Lord and I'm not absolutely sure if I was saved then or not. But at seventeen I was on my way to school at one of these outstations where the ladies lived and I remember getting down on my knees and asking the Lord to give me assurance. I don't know what led me to do it, but, anyway, I believe from that time on I was really saved. But I...I always, as far as I know, I...I always loved the Lord. And I can't remember any definite time when I really asked Him into my heart, but I...I just accepted what I'd been taught as a child. I don't remember ever being rebellious against God, or anything like that.
ERICKSEN: When did you start thinking about becoming a missionary?
FRAME: Well, I always had thought I'd be a missionary. I always felt I'd be a missionary from childhood. I just never thought of anything else.
ERICKSEN: So then your....
FRAME: And...and when I was at Moody that term, they were calling for the two hundred. I hadn't applied. My sister, Esther, who was with me there, she had applied. And she said, "Why don't you apply to Moody?" And so finally I did apply and so we were both accepted.
ERICKSEN: So did your parents encourage you...
FRAME: [As Ericksen is still speaking] Oh, yes, I'm sure they were very...
ERICKSEN: ...to be missionaries?
FRAME: ...I'm sure they were very happy. I...I don't remember they ever influenced us directly to...and said we should be missionaries. I can't remember that at all. But they just let the Lord lead us.
ERICKSEN: Can you identify any other strong influences in your life that led you into missionary work?
FRAME: Well, we had...we had good training at the Lutheran school we attended up at Jigong, and I'm not sure that that influenced us toward missionary work at all. But they were very strong. The staff there were very strong in memorizing Scripture, and we had chapel every day, and we memorized many, many portions of Scripture, like the Psalms. And I remember the...some of my classmates being confirmed, and I just sort of wondered about it. I wasn't too sure what it was all about, but they were confirmed and.... But then at the same time, about, I was baptized during the summer when my folks were up and I was [unclear as Ericksen clears throat].... I think...I think they'd asked me if I wanted to be baptized and if I felt I was the Lord's, and I think I responded that I was and that I would like to be baptized. I was the only one baptized at that time, and the ladies who were in our mission and our family were there. No one else, I don't think.
ERICKSEN: Can you tell me about your schooling at...was that called the American School?
FRAME: The Lutheran American School. Well, that...that was it. I mean, I was there from the time I was about eleven until I graduated in...in...in...from high school, about five or six years altogether.
ERICKSEN: So, where did you do your studying prior...prior to going there? Was it at home?
FRAME: Well, this Miss Boyer, who went out sort of to teach us, she...she started us off and she was teaching. My sister Ruth was a very good student, and very mature for her age. She was far, far ahead of Esther and I...Esther and me, I guess. And so we...we used to study at home. I...I never was too much of a student [laughs], to tell the truth. I enjoyed athletics more. [Laughs.] And I went in for...we...we played a lot of tennis up at Jigong. There was...there were four of us who always played together.
ERICKSEN: Did you...were you...did you feel prepared from your early schooling when you got to the American School?
FRAME: Well, we'd been on furlough, too, and so had gone to school in...in America. I think...just prior to that, I think we were home just a few...few months and then we went up to Jigong. We'd been at...at school in America for...for the time we were on furlough.
ERICKSEN: And were the courses at the school that you took the same that we might find at a school here?
FRAME: I think so. I don't remember that...you know, they had reading and writing and [laughs]...and grammar and the usual things. Although they did stress...stress the Reformation and things like that, I remember [both laugh], in the Lutheran school.
ERICKSEN: Any classes you particularly liked?
FRAME: I always liked math, and I majored in math in college. And I had no special leading along any lines, like some people nowadays [laughs]. I just was...just took the general courses.
ERICKSEN: Did you find that your education at the American School sufficiently prepared you for Wheaton?
FRAME: Yes, I...I don't think I had too much trouble. I wasn't an "A" student, but I don't think I had much trouble. The...the adjusting to Wheaton life was my hardest thing, I think, because it was so very different. It took me a year or two to really get adjusted, and I was very shy. And people thought I was standoffish, but it was just because I was just so shy. I hardly dared talk to people. And I had to work...work for about four hours a day. In those days, they didn't charge missionaries' children tuition, which was a big blessing, or I wouldn't have gotten through, I guess.
ERICKSEN: One thing I want to go back to. What exactly was your father's work...what kind of work was he doing in...?
FRAME: Well, he was building, church building, you'd call it, church planting as they call it, because there...there were no Christians when he went there.
ERICKSEN: At all?
FRAME: Not that I know of, unless.... I think he may have had help from a neighboring...a neighboring...a missionary who maybe sent a worker over to help. I guess his letters would tell that. I know they...they...my folks had a hard time getting a property inside the city, and Dad started out.... Do you want me to go back to this?
FRAME: My dad had a street chapel. That was the way they did in olden days. They...they had a chapel right off the street so that people could just come in...walk in, sit down and listen and they'd have the big posters of re...Religious Tract Society made lovely, big posters and so they'd be put on the walls and Dad would explain, and explain the Scriptures. And there was a...Mother tells this story. I've heard it quite a few times from her...her...my stepmother. And this man came. He said...he said he was a Christian. My...my father wondered about it, but he says, "I have a...a problem. I'm an opium smoker and I want to be delivered." And he says, "You shut me up in a room, and don't let me out until I'm delivered of this opium habit." And he...he had some terrible days in there, apparently, and it was rather risky for my dad to do that. They might have thought [laughs] he was mistreating this chap or something. But, anyway, after a while, he...he felt he was delivered from that opium habit. And he had...he was in debt because of this opium habit, but he had property in the city. And so he wanted to sell some of that property to my dad. And so finally my dad got permission to buy this property, and that's how we got our first property. And...and the property they kept all the time right in the city. And because the...they were very impressed that this man who had smoked opium could...could quit like that. And no doubt he gave his testimony and, through that, Dad got permission to buy this property.
ERICKSEN: What happened to the work that your dad started when he left the field and retired?
FRAME: Well, it went on. They had their pastor...
ERICKSEN: The Chinese?
FRAME: Yes. And I think they had to leave because of the Japanese trouble. And the Christians were still there and the pastor. Of course, when trouble came, they often would flee the city and then go back again. Actually, when we said goodbye to my folks when we left in 1940, it was just when the Japanese were pushing into our province. And, just while we were saying goodbye to my folks, the Japanese army came right into our city of Miyang, and we were having church one Sunday morning.... The city was practically empty, except for these Christians who had run to...to our compound. And [clears throat] while we were sitting there having church, a bayonet was stuck through the...through a window way up, and we knew the Japanese were there. They had these...these sort of "keds"[?], as we used to call them, these soft shoes, and they came without any noise, so we were surprised when they turned up. They didn't come into the front right away, but everyone fled to the back to our...our compound which was separate, further in. And there were a lot of women, and that was not too good because of the Japanese soldiers, you know [clears throat]. And they were there five days. Of course, we didn't know how long they'd be there, and the gatekeeper was terribly frightened. And when they banged on our big front gate, which is very thick [clears throat], Ray opened the door and they were surprised to see him [clears throat]. And so Ray asked them what they wanted and...and he said...Ray said he wanted to see their official, their head man. And so by and by they took Ray, and he was gone an hour or two, and I wondered if I'd ever see him again. And he went to see the main official, to ask protection for our place [clears throat]. Excuse me. Because at that time, America was not fighting Japan and so they promised to put placards on the outside of our wall, and tell the soldiers to keep out. But, of course, the officials, they felt they were free to come and go as they liked, and so [sound fades] for five days it was pretty hectic. Ray had to spend lots of time in the...in the outside guest room where they entertained people who wanted to come in and talk about the gospel and visit. And he was out there a lot. And once when he was out, I think this was early in the morning, the official came stomping up...up our stairs, and into...into our bedroom. Just opened the door and I was there alone, and, boy, I was frightened [laughs]. But he just looked around and...and left [Ericksen laughs].
FRAME: And my father's nerves were very bad, so he...he didn't like to face the Japanese and Ray was young and brave in those days [laughs]. And he went out. But [clears throat] the fifth day, one lady said, "I had a dream that the Japanese have gone." And sure enough, in the morning it was all quiet. And we looked over the wall and no sign of any soldiers. We'd heard a lot of noise in the night of running around and it apparently was the time they were leaving. It was raining, and they left and the next morning we found that they had gone. And...and Ray and some of the Christians went out and looked around and went over to the city wall and looked out and saw them marching away.
ERICKSEN: So when did your father finally leave China?
FRAME: Well, he left during the Japanese trouble.
ERICKSEN: Early forties?
FRAME: Yes, I think that was about the time.
ERICKSEN: And when did he...?
FRAME: No. No. It was...no, it was later. They...they went.... No, it was much later because they.... I can't remember. They had a terrific time getting...getting to West China and fleeing before the Japanese, and being...hiding in the tunnels and...and having to run out of the train and lie in the fields. Because even when we were there they...they...the planes would come right down. There's no anti-aircraft, nothing. They could come right down and drop a bomb [laughs] very easily. And once a bomb was dropped. I guess that's when we were at the R [railroad?] station, a bomb was dropped just next door. And it was...we had dug an air raid shelter in our back compound and sometimes went in, but mostly the Chinese [laughs] were there, and...and it wasn't a very big shelter. And once a bomb was dropped in the compound across the way from us. They didn't quite hit their mark. And my parents' church...the...the whole front of the church...the whole...the thing...the roof was gone and...and so it was really dangerous.
ERICKSEN: Do you remember when your dad first went to China?
FRAME: He went out in nineteen hundred and...and five .
FRAME: He first went out under a Mr. Holding up in North China, but.... And so did the Elliotts, and so did...I think, so did Mary Pearl Kahley's folks. But none of them stayed with him because he was a very difficult, I think, man. Anyway, they didn't see eye-to-eye with him and so they weren't with him much more than a year or so, and then gradually left. And my father contacted Mr. Conway of the O.M.F. [Overseas Missionary Fellowship] at Jigong. He went to Jigong first for a while, because, I think, he...his nerves were very bad and he was very sick. And then from there they contacted Mr. Conway, and he told of this place in Miyang that was in great need, and that's how he...he went there. My sister Esther was born up in North China, and I was born in Miyang. Ruth was already born in the States before they left.
ERICKSEN: Okay. Now let's switch to your Wheaton years. How did you decide to attend Wheaton?
FRAME: Well, my sister Ruth was there, and I think she finished in '26, and I went in '26 [unclear]. So, I guess I just sort of naturally followed her.
ERICKSEN: What sort of activities were you involved in at Wheaton?
FRAME: Well, not too much. I attended College Church. I never joined. I don't know why. I guess I didn't know about joining churches [laughs] in those days. I was just sort of ignorant and shy. And, you see, I hadn't grown up in...in America in a...in a church, and so knew little about that. But I attended College Church and I was in the...the Ael... Aelioian, what did they call it? You know, they had those societies in those days, lit. [literary] societies. I was in that society. And, I guess, I was mostly interested in athletics, which wasn't too good for me, because it took...took a lot of my interest and attention. And we had a.... I was on the tennis team and basketball and baseball. I guess that's all they had for girls.
ERICKSEN: You mentioned before that your first year or two were quite difficult adjustment wise. Can you think of things that were hard to get used to?
FRAME: I don't know. I just...I guess it was just the general life. I...I can't think of anything very...very difficult. We lived (Ruth Elliott and Margaret and Francis Elliott, the three of them)...and we were up on fourth floor that was really the attic of the old, what did they call it? The "Red Castle" [Williston] they used to call it. It's been renovated since then and changed quite a lot. But we lived up there because that was the cheapest place and I guess I wasn't used to working, doing work either, because on the field we have servants, you know, and we just didn't...didn't do that sort of thing. And so to...to work, I was cashier one year, and I was doing saucepans and things in the kitchen one year, different...different jobs. Thirty-five cents an hour, I think it was, something like that, but it helped me pay some of my bills. And our senior year we lived with President Buswell's sister-in-law and mother-in-law, Mrs. Spaulding and Alice Spaulding. There were eight of us and we have kept up a round robin every...ever since. We're all living, and all but one is married. My cousin Elizabeth is still not married, but everyone else is married, and grandparents by now, and maybe great-grandparents for all I know. And we've kept up this round robin ever since. And we...we enjoyed it there. I'm...I'm not sure if the Spaulding's did, because they had boys the next year [laughs]. But...but they were very good, and Mrs. Buswell is...is still in our round robin. She still writes. She just had her ninetieth birthday.
ERICKSEN: Do you remember anything about the transition between Charles Blanchard and President [James Oliver] Buswell? You were there....
FRAME: No. President Buswell was there when we went.... President....
ERICKSEN: He was there already?
FRAME: Yes, he was there already.
ERICKSEN: Anything you remember about him?
FRAME: He was a good president, as far as...as...as we figured. I mean he...we liked him and he.... I remember they had...what's the day when everybody gets out and works on the cam...Campus Day? Is that what they call it? And he used to be out there working, and I guess we...we saw...saw him once and a while. But, I guess, I just didn't open up to people too much and so....
ERICKSEN: Are there any fa...faculty members that you particularly remember?
FRAME: I remember Dr. [Darien A.] Straw. He had...he had our.... And Dr. [Elsie Storrs] Dow, she had our English class, and [pauses] I remember the German teacher, but I forget her name. We liked her. And math, of course, I found easy, so I...I got along there. [Pauses, and then begins to speak but it is unclear as Ericksen begins also.]
ERICKSEN: Were there any...? I'm sorry, go ahead.
FRAME: But I found...found English hard. I don't know why. I just didn't find English easy. It wasn't the teacher. We had a good teacher.
ERICKSEN: Did you learn Chinese as a child?
FRAME: Yes. Just children's talk, you know.
ERICKSEN: And then when you go to school....
FRAME: At school we weren't suppose to talk with the servants very much because they didn't want us...you know, they...they just wanted us to be separate. But we...we could talk to them. Most of the teachers didn't know Chinese [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Can you describe the...the spiritual atmosphere at Wheaton when you were there?
FRAME: Well, I...I think it was...was very, very sound and very good.
ERICKSEN: Any particular things that were going on that lead you to say that?
FRAME: Well, I use...I used to enjoy the chapels, and then when we had special speakers, and then...was it Sunday night?...they had testimonies and singing down...downstairs. This was in Pierce Chapel, of course, where...where we were then. It was big enough.
ERICKSEN: Were there missions emphasis groups on campus?
FRAME: [Pauses] I can't even remember. Isn't that awful? [Laughs] I'm sure there were, because I...I remember.... Oh, yes, there was...there was the...what's that group that they used to have for...for missions? People who would vol...Student Volunteers, I guess, was it? Student Volunteers? But I don't know how many of them...I know some who were Student Volunteers never got [laughs]...got to the mission field. But, you know, you lose track of...of people.
ERICKSEN: Is there...? As you look back on your Wheaton days, is there anything from your education that you found particularly useful when you got to the mission field?
FRAME: [Pauses.] Well, I'm sure it all helped. But not being a student, I maybe didn't...wasn't impressed like...like some. I'm ashamed to say I...I...there's such a lot I just don't remember.
FRAME: I'm sure it made a...a profound impression on me, the Christian school. See, I was used to...used to Christian surroundings and everything. So that it wasn't...wasn't so different to me, having been in a mission school and everything.
ERICKSEN: Then you...you mentioned that you went to Moody [Bible Institute] for two terms.
FRAME: Yes. Right after that.
ERICKSEN: Why did you decide to go to Moody?
FRAME: Well, maybe partly was because I didn't have money to go anywhere else. I mean, I didn't have money to go to.... And I...I did feel it was good to get this Bible training. I might have been...I might have done better to stay at Moody longer, but then the mission was calling for the two hundred, and they accepted us. And I...I felt, "Well, it's time to apply." Oh, there's...there's another thing I...I remember now about Wheaton. I had Miss [Edith C.] Torrey for my Bible class, I remember that now. And she was very fine. I really studied for her class. Miss Torrey was a very good teacher and had us do a lot of memorizing. And I know years afterwards, when I went back to visit Wheaton, she called me by name right away. She...she had a tremendous memory for names. Here are all these students she's had, she...she still remembered my name. I was very much impressed. Yes, I was...I was very much blessed by having her as my Bible teacher there.
ERICKSEN: Had you decided to...to go with C.I.M. before you attended Moody, or you found about the call through the [unclear as Frame begins to respond]...?
FRAME: Well, Ruth...Ruth went out under O.M.F. as a....
ERICKSEN: Ruth Elliott? Or, your sister Ruth?
FRAME: [As Ericksen is speaking] No, my sister Ruth. And so, it just sort of came naturally. Esther went out under the C.I.M. She was already applying and I just never thought of any other mission. Although as a child, you know, when things...money was a little tight sometimes, I thought, "Well, when I grow up, I'm not going to join a faith mission" [laughs], but I changed my mind, and I've decided a faith mission is pretty good. They've taken good care of us all these years. [Ericksen begins to speak, but stops] My stepmother, she...lately she has said, "You know, my parents died when I was four years old and the Lord has cared for me for ninety years." And she has said that several times. She's ninety-four now, so [clears throat] she had some very interesting stories. But her mind is getting a little...it's hard for her to remember now.
ERICKSEN: Did you find your...your time at Moody helpful for your mission work?
FRAME: Ye, I'm sure the...the classes helped me. I don't remember any special.... We...we used to go to a...a prayer meeting. It wasn't really connected with Moody, but Mr. [Isaac] Page, a very fine missionary from our mission, was retired here in Chicago. He used to have the C.I.M....prayer meeting for C.I.M. in those days. He used to have the prayer meeting once a month and we used to go to that and really enjoy it. Betty Stam and her...Betty Scott then, and her husband John Stam were...attended this prayer meeting too, and I...I don't know if Ruth Elliott was at Wheat...at Moody then or not. Faith Leeuwenberg and others [clears throat]. But we had a...a good time of fellowship and he...he was always so good with young people.
ERICKSEN: What do you remember about C.I.M.'s call for the two-hundred new workers?
FRAME: Well, all I know is that they were calling at the time we were in Moody, and Esther...Esther answered that call. And then I wasn't decided. The reason I was de...undecided was I wanted to take a secretarial course. I had very much wanted to take a secretarial course but didn't know where to go, and I didn't have the money. And so...and somebody else discouraged...one...one missionary...retired missionary, I believe it was, discouraged me and so I applied to the mission just...just as a matter of course. I...I just felt it was the thing to do at the time.
ERICKSEN: Was there quite a bit of excitement about it at Moody? Were there quite a few people going out?
FRAME: There...there were quite a number. There was Faith Leeuwenburg and Betty Scott, and John Stam went later, and Esther and I, five of us. I don't remember if Ruth Elliott was there that year or not. I don't know if she went to Moody. Maybe you remember her story.
ERICKSEN: How did you find out about the call? Was it through the prayer meeting?
FRAME: I imagine...I imagine so.
ERICKSEN: What kind of procedures did you go through to join the mission?
FRAME: We had to fill in a lot of forms and then we had to go to Philadelphia to the headquarters for a few weeks, or...and meet the Director and other members of the staff there in Philadelphia. And be interviewed, and if...if we're accepted, then we're accepted.
ERICKSEN:: Were there any sorts of classes while you were there, too?
FRAME: Yes, they...they gave you some orientation about the mission, and about their policies and that. Maybe even started us on...on some Chinese...the Chinese phonetics [laughs], Chinese characters.
ERICKSEN: And once you were approved by the mission, did you leave for China immediately?
FRAME: That's very vague in my mind. I...I just can't quite remember. It wasn't...wasn't long after that, I think, that we...we did leave. And then we...we went to Vancouver by train [clears throat]...went to Vancouver by train, and sailed from Vancouver on separate boats, the men and the women on separate boats [laughs].
ERICKSEN: So, they were being careful already?
FRAME: Yeah, because in China the...the...the rules were very strict in those days about women and....
ERICKSEN: What do you recall of your language program? Did you begin that in China?
FRAME: Yes, we...we went direct to language school at Yungchow. Yungchow, I think, is where...it's where Hudson Taylor was for a while, the city of Yungchow [clears throat]. That year there was a...a big crowd. There were sixty or seventy of us ladies. Don't have the picture here, I don't think. And we were...we...there were three...about three staff members there and then we had the Chinese teachers, of course. And we had to take turns taking chapel in the evening, taking prayers, and we used to go out and distribute tracts.
ERICKSEN: Did you practice your Chinese while you were out then?
FRAME: Well, I could speak Chinese, but it was a...a different dialect, and [laughs] it was very hard to understand. It was quite, quite different. And my teacher used to get very irritated with me because I'd lapse into my childhood pronunciation [laughs], and he...he didn't like that. But later when I was designated to Honan where I...I grew up, it was much easier again [laughs].
ERICKSEN: How did you feel when you found out that you were going to be going back to Honan?
FRAME: Well, my sisters were both designated up to Gansu, the most northern...northwestern province. And I sort of wanted to go where they were, but I was designated to...to Honan and worked with another M.K. [missionary kid]. And for a while [clears throat] we got shifted around. I was with one M.K. in one station and then another M.K. in another station, and I was with Mrs. [Ruth] Adeney for one year, the present Mrs. Adeney. I don't know if you know the Adeney's. And so we...we had to adjust to different situations.
ERICKSEN: Was it different coming back to China as a missionary? You'd lived there as a....
FRAME: [As Ericksen is still speaking] Well [clears throat]...well, I was...being very shy, I found it very hard to...to...to do anything, to break into the Word, and to witness, but I...I...I did it, and the Lord blessed. In Honan, mostly we...in west Honan, anyway, we mostly taught the phonetics and then we had senior missionaries who helped us. And the first few years, of course, a lot of time was spent on study, because, as a child, I never learned the characters and we had to learn to read the Bible. And there were no English-speaking people around to sort of help you along with your Chinese. It's either Chinese or English. You...you...you either sank or swam with the Chinese. You just had to learn it. My husband was very good at the Chinese language. He was preaching in a very short time, but I...I, even though I was born in China, was slower than he was.
ERICKSEN: Do you recall, when you first got back to China, your first visit to your parents?
FRAME: Let's see. They were in the province when I got back, but I didn't see them right away. I think...I think I saw them when we...or we may have gone to their station [pauses]. It was only forty miles away from where...not the first year. That was...the first year I'm not sure that I saw them, or, if I did, it was up at the summer resort. And we...we...I think I lived with them when we were up at the summer resort even...even then, but that was only for a short time. Yes, it was very nice to see them. My dad was there to give me away when we got married, which was...which every M.K. doesn't...I mean every missionary doesn't have the opportunity [laughs]. Nowadays they just fly home [laughs]. Those days you don't...didn't travel around at the rate that you do now.
ERICKSEN: What stage was the...the work that C.I.M. was doing when you got to your first station?
FRAME: My first station was in...it was a small church in...in the eastern part, east of the railroad. The railroad's...the Hankow-Peking railroad divided the province. And I was with this M.K., Olive Joyce, at the...in the east and actually I was only there a few...few months when...when I left and went to west...to the western part. The rest of the time I was west of the railroad in Shekichen. I was there four years before I...before I was married, and then after I was married we went back for about four years. I was with an M.K....with Nora Conway from New Zealand, and she was an M.K., too, and she was born during the Boxer Uprising. And she...she had to hide with her folks up in...in an attic for two or three days as...as the Boxers were hunting for them. And she never cried in all those three days. The Lord kept her from crying, and their lives were saved. It was a very dangerous time.
ERICKSEN: [Tape recorder turned off, period of silence, recorder turned on] We were talking about your...your work in Honan. What sort of things were you assigned to do in the churches?
FRAME: Well, we...Ray would often preach, although we had a pastor there.
ERICKSEN: Was...excuse me, was this even before you were married?
FRAME: No, this was after we were married. Be...before we were married, when Ray first went to Honan, there was this revival going on and people were really being saved and confessing their sins, and getting right with the Lord. And some...some...one person was just under deep conviction because they had strangled a number of their babies, and he could see these babies all pointing at him and accusing him, as under...while he was under conviction. And he realized that he had kill...taken life and killed these babies. Often they did it because of poverty. It was just such a burden to have another mouth to feed, as they called it. But, nevertheless, that was no excuse, and they were really under conviction. Others were convicted of other sins and confessed them. Something none of us like to do is confess our sins, and so it wasn't easy. And apart from the Holy Spirit, this could not have happened. And this Miss Munson, who was much used of the Lord (she was from Norway)...and the Lord had dealt with her as a young missionary. And she had gone through much testing and trial 'til the Lord brought her to this place, and she was much used of the Lord. Wherever she went, there were real revivals, and she would stand at the back door when people went out and say, "Are you saved?" whether it was a deacon, or...or who it was, and some really got under conviction. Although they might have answered, "Yes," later they had to confess they weren't, and the Lord brought them through, and our churches were really revived.
ERICKSEN: What was Miss Munson's first name?
FRAME: Maria Munson. I think there's a book by her called The Awakening. I don't think I have it now, and.... I think they have it at the O.M.F. And she was much used of the Lord.
ERICKSEN: Was she an O.M.F. missionary?
FRAME: No, she was Norwegian. I don't know...I don't know what mission. I can't remember. And then there was Pastor Yung Chow Tung [?] who was much used of the Lord, a very well known pastor in China. And he...he used to come to our stations and preach, and the Lord used him. And then there was this sort of Pentecostal group from North China, very fine group really, and they were really exceptional people. But sometimes I think it's the fault of those who try to imitate them, maybe, that brings problems.
ERICKSEN: Did they have a name [Frame clears throat] for themselves?
FRAME: Yes, it was...yes [word unclear], it was Jesus...Jesus Family, called Jesus Family. And actually, after the communists came, the communists couldn't find any fault with them because they lived in a commune up there in...in [laughs] North China. And...and they...they were working hard and doing everything together, and...and really...a real example, and many were led to the Lord through them. The one...the one leader, he...he had a wife. Of course, in...in those days when they were married, they didn't choose their own wives. Their parents did and they had go-betweens. And he had a wife who...who wasn't so educated and he despised her. But after the Lord dealt with him, and he had this experience of the fullness of the Spirit, the Lord dealt with him, and he...he...he really learned to love his wife. And he taught her, and he...he was very good to her, and she became...became a real helpmate to him. She learned fast, and...and...and he saw that he had been wrong, the way he had treated her. And the other...one of the other leaders, he had two or three wives, and being an official, a government official, he...he had two or three wives. And after he was saved he...he gave big sums of money to the two wives, and sent them away, and kept his first wife, which...which was the most difficult one and very [laughs] hard lady to get on with, but he kept his...his own wife and sent the other two away. So the Lord really had worked in their lives.
ERICKSEN: You mentioned early on in our talk your working with women. Is that what you were doing at this point with...?
FRAME: Well, I generally did visitation with the women or went out and had these classes. My work was mostly with the women.
ERICKSEN: What sort of things did you do in the classes?
FRAME: Well, we were teaching them phonetics, mostly, or we had Bible classes at times. I was with a senior missionary much of the time. I mean, no, I shouldn't say much of the time. The first few years, we...we were with senior missionaries who...who could help us.
ERICKSEN: So were you helping the Chinese women to learn to read?
FRAME: Yes. Yes. We would help them because in those days the girls hadn't been to school.
ERICKSEN: How did you meet your husband, Ray?
FRAME: Well, we did see each other in Vancouver before we sailed, just to say hello. I...we'd lived in different places, and then we saw each other in Shanghai for a while, and...but just casual, you know, and then in Hankow on the way up to Honan, and once it...once and a while we would happen to meet at the same station when there were special meetings going on, and our senior workers were there. And then at the summer resort, we'd have picnics and things. I lived with my folks, whereas he lived at the C.I.M. home up there, and we, oh...we didn't see too much of each other. Actually, we didn't know each other too well before we got married. And he had gone out with a sort of understanding with another girl in Canada. They had an understanding, and she was going to go out, and then at the last minute, she backed down. Said she wasn't going. I guess she felt she was just going because of Ray, and so he waited for letters from her all these years. It was hard for him to go out, you know, with that mis...with her backing down when they had this understanding, but he...he went anyway. And for...they had an understanding for about five years, that they would.... Because in those days the mission sent out the young men, hoping they wouldn't get married for five years, and really get the language, because some were to go...were to be designated way up to Sinjung [?] in North China. And...but he wasn't. He was designated to Honan. But he stood by that five year contract and waited for word from his girlfriend. But it never came, and so then he was free. After that, he felt he was free to...to propose to someone else, and the Lord.... He was never lonely, he said, until [microphone bumped] that time. And his fellow worker got engaged just about that time, and he started feeling lonely [laughs]. And so...and a Chinese who knew both of us, she suggested [laughs]...suggested me as a companion.
ERICKSEN: So you had a go-between, too [laughs]?
FRAME: [Laughs] Well, she never spoke to me [Ericksen laughs]. Anyway, she suggested this, and then we saw each other at the summer resort. But it wasn't 'til later that he finally wrote...wrote to me at the station, and it was through mail that we were engaged.
ERICKSEN: This five-year policy that you mentioned, was that something that was signed or it was just an agreed principle?
FRAME: [As Ericksen is speaking] Well...I think it was just a sort of understanding because [microphone rattles] I don't think those who were in Honan or anywhere would have had to stick to that. But...like Otto Schoerner, he...he went way up into north, into the Gobi Desert even, way up there. And their group, there were no doctors or nurses and there were problems. And it was...would've been hard for girls, you know, ladies. So a number of men went up there and worked and I think they wanted them to get the language and to be well established before they even thought of getting married.
ERICKSEN: How did you...how did two "C.I.M.ers" go about getting married to each other? Was there a procedure you needed to go through in the mission as well?
FRAME: No, we just got engaged and then they arranged for us to meet somewhere after we were engaged by letter. We were able to meet at another mission station, some...another's mission's...a Lutheran mission station. And then in the summer time, when we were [truck noise drowns out next few words] on our vacation. We got married that next summer at our summer resort where we were on vacation. No, there...there was nothing too complicated about that. But we had to be very careful. I think we saw each other, too, at his station once, but we had to be careful about seeing each other and everything because of the Chinese customs.
ERICKSEN: Can you tell me about some of those customs?
FRAME: Well, in the early days, girls were never allowed out of the...out on the streets. They just stayed behind, unless they were with somebody, you know, some escort or something. They...they just didn't run around the way girls do here [laughs]. And they were very strict that way. And they...they...some of them didn't even see their husband until the day of the wedding, and then they hardly dared look up [laughs]. They had this [laughs] dingle dangles down the front of their eyes, and a fancy...fancy veil or something. And [they] came in a...in a sedan chair to the...to the home and....
ERICKSEN: Then, after you were married, you went to...?
FRAME: We went back to that station where I had been. We were there for four years.
ERICKSEN: Tell me the name of the city again.
FRAME: Shekichen. S-H-E-K-I-C-H-E-N. I think they spell it a little differently now on the Chinese map. I'm not sure.
ERICKSEN: And did your work change any when you went back? What sort of work did Ray...?
FRAME: Well, that was when he...he oversaw the work in the different outstations. And I was out with my sister in the outstations teaching.
ERICKSEN: So how many missionaries would he have been responsible for then?
FRAME: Not...not missionaries, just the Chinese churches.
FRAME: There...sometimes we were alone at the station, sometimes there was...
ERICKSEN: [As Frame is speaking] So...
FRAME: ...another lady or so, but there weren't that many people at the station.
ERICKSEN: ...so it was Chinese workers that he was overseeing.
FRAME: Well, he was...I think he was sort of building up the churches, you know, giving courses in Bible schools in these little outstations, and holding.... They generally would hold evening meetings and during the day they would go out. And often he went out with a...a band, a preaching band, and they would go out in the village street or anywhere. They would put up a poster. And he used to have a mouth organ, and he had gotten one of these accordions and played. Of course, that was new, and it would attract the people. And they...they'd sing [car noise drowns out words] and preach. It's not so easy when you're just [laughs] learning the language. You make a whole lot of mistakes [laughs]. But he had a...a teacher with him, though, for two or three years, going wherever he went. And if he made mistakes, his teacher would help him. And I think that's why his Chinese was good, because he...most of the Chinese wouldn't have dared to tell you your mistakes, you know. They...they're very polite and they...they would say it's alright. This teacher was very good, and he...he really corrected him when he was wrong.
ERICKSEN: Then you went home for your furlough in 1940. Did...did you expect when you left that you would be away five years?
FRAME: Oh, no. No. We were...we were...we were in California, ready to sail when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and then we knew that we had to stay. By then we had our first little girl. She was born in Philadelphia. And so we went up to Canada and Ray did deputation work for three years for...for the mission. And then he decided to go to Kelowna as pastor. Raymond was born there. He was...he was born on his dad's birthday. He'd already gone to church that morning to...for a pre-service...pre-Sunday school prayer meeting, and that's the first Sunday I decided I'd stay home. I had the little girl with me, and after a while I decided I'd better send her off to church, too, and said, "You might not find me home when you come back." And...and he didn't. I was in the hospital and, by the time he got back, Raymond was born in the hospital. I...I called a taxi and went off by myself.
ERICKSEN: Then when you returned to China at the end of 1945 or early '46 was it decided already that you would be going to the language school, or was that decided in China?
FRAME: I think they had it in mind that he would take over the language school before...even before, because they sent us.... We and the Krafts, another couple, we were on this marine [unclear] that went back to pick up troops, and there are very few of them, and about forty people...forty passengers in all on that boat. It's a huge boat, and Ray and Mr. Kraft were way down three tiers with the...with the troops, you know. And Mrs. Kraft had two children, and I had the two, and we were up in the...in the infirmary part. We lived separately. And there were a number of single ladies on the boat, too. And we were the first ones back in Shanghai, I think, after the war. First missionaries back of any...any mission, I think.
ERICKSEN: Anything that you can remember when you first returned that was...was different from when you'd left?
FRAME: Well, even our trip back...we were in...we had ten days in Hawaii with free hotel. I mean, we were on the boat, so...because they were putting on a degaussing device. They were afraid of the...the mines in the water when we went to Shanghai, and even there in Hawaii, I guess. And then when we got to Shanghai, we couldn't get off the boat for a day or two, and we were so.... It was the last day of the year, I think, and we were so impatient to get [laughs] to Shanghai. And here we'd...we'd thought, "We won't be able to have...we may not get any sugar, or we may not have eggs, we may not have lots of things in Shanghai because they'd had a war." Because here everything was rationed, the sugar and everything, and we...we thought.... So we were trying to prepare the children for this, and we got there and they had everything [laughs]. They really...and even coffee. The...the Swedes had saw it...seen to it that they had a lot of coffee stocked up. But when the war was over there was all of this surplus from the army, and the mission got truckloads and truckloads of surplus for just the money to move it. And the things...things seemed...the mission always seemed pretty good. It was....
ERICKSEN: In Shanghai?
FRAME: Yes, because the Germans had sort of stayed there, and the Germans were in with the Japanese. So, being an interdenominational mission, they...they sometimes sent parcels into the...the concentration camps...into the camps for...for the missionaries, which really helped. And they...they delivered them.... The food in the camp was terrible. But the mission home was sort of messed up, you know, because they had that sort of as headquarters. No, I'm not sure that the Germans did stay there, but, anyway, the Germans were around, so I think they were a little more careful, because it was army headquarters. And...but we seemed to be fairly free. When we entered [?] Anking...when Ray got to Anking, it was terrible. He had to re...[laughs] rebuild, practically, the buildings because the woodwork...a lot of it had been dug out, and they had made fires in the floor...wooden floor, and it...it was a mess. And he had to.... You have to start from scratch there. You have to saw down trees. You have to get the lumber sawed up, and things made right from scratch. And he was up there first for quite a while, and I was down in Shanghai with the children waiting...waiting until he could take me. After a while, he finally sent me up, but it was a bit hectic. And the...the building was full of white ants, termites, and at night they'd come out in swarms and I thought, "Well, this is like the plagues of Egypt." And Ray had some D.D.T. [insecticide], and he sprayed it all over. And from then on he had asthma for years because he had breathed in that D.D.T. But he had to get everything ready for these many, many students who came, one after the other. They came in batches from different countries, all waiting to go to China as missionaries.
ERICKSEN: What sort of things were you and Ray responsible for, being in charge of the language school?
FRAME: Well, I didn't have so much....
ERICKSEN You were watching the children?
FRAME: Watching the children and in charge of the laundry and.... Another couple came and helped afterwards. I...I wasn't much good at the cooking and things so this other lady, that was Mrs. [Miriam] Dunn, Mrs. Marvin Dunn. Later on, he took over the language school. But Ray was there for the first two or three years, and Ray, of course, had to hire the teachers and have regular classes. And...and there were a number of teachers teaching the students the grammar. They had English classes, and then they had...had to learn the Chinese from the Chinese-Pekinese teachers that they had. It was a full schedule. And then they had volleyball, too. It was their one activity. And there...there was a little church there and I guess...I don't know if they went to that service right away. Maybe later on, because we had...we had a service in English for the students. But the poor Europeans, they...they'd all have to learn English. It was hard for them. They had to learn their Chinese through the English medium, so it was really, really hard for them. Most of them were in England for some months or years before they went out so that they could use English to...to learn the Chinese. But they were very good students. They really knew how to study.
ERICKSEN: Well, I see we're at a good breaking point, so why don't we stop for now. Thank you very much for your...your input. I see we've only begun to....
FRAME: [As Ericksen is still speaking] Maybe I...maybe I...maybe I was too far away from the mike all this time.
ERICKSEN: No, I don't think that'll....
ERICKSEN: I think that picked up everything. I think we've only begun to scratch the surface of [Frame laughs] all the things that you've been involved in, but.... Thank you.
FRAME: Well, I'm afraid it's a very poor projection, because I'm not a speaker.
ERICKSEN: Well, no need to worry about that [tape recorder turned off].
END OF TAPE