This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Margaret Rice Elliott Crossett (CN 287, T1) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words have been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. Foreign terms not commonly understood appear in italics. 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, because that is how the interviewee pronounced it. 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. Grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. The transcribers have not attempted to phonetically replicate English dialects but have instead entered the standard English word the speaker was expressing. Readers should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence on the part 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 by the transcriber.
This transcription was made by Timothy Harder and Janyce H. Nasgowitz and was completed in February 1996.
Collection 287, T1. Interview of Margaret Rice Elliott Crossett by Paul A. Ericksen, November 16, 1984.
ERICKSEN: This is an interview with Margaret Rice Elliott Crossett by Paul Ericksen for the Missionary Sources Collection of Wheaton College. This interview took place at the offices of the Archives of the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, Illinois, on Friday, November 16, 1984, at 1:15 pm. Well, Mrs. Crossett, I'd like to begin our interview by talking about your family background. You were born in Damingfu [Hubei Province, China], I believe. Is that how you pronounce it?
ERICKSEN: Which province was that in?
CROSSETT: It is now called Hubei.
ERICKSEN: What was...can you tell me what your family was doing there?
CROSSETT: My father and mother were missionaries, under the South Chili Mission.
CROSSETT: Chili, Hubei used to be called Chili, C-H-I-L-I.
CROSSETT: But that's not chili. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: And what was your father doing with the...the mission?
CROSSETT: Pioneer work, just church planting.
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh. [pauses] And was he doing that right in Damingfu?
CROSSETT: Yes, and he....
ERICKSEN: Forgive me if I pronounce it wrong.
CROSSETT: No, that's right. But he had been moved from one town to another various times.
ERICKSEN: And...now, I understand that he also worked for the American Bible Society. When did...there was a change there.
CROSSETT: He came...after six years, he came home and he changed to the American Bible Society.
ERICKSEN: Any particular reason why he...for the change?
CROSSETT: Yes [chuckles]. The South Chili Mission was run by one man and he was very much of a dictator and nearly all the missionaries left.
ERICKSEN: And did the mission just fold up, then?
CROSSETT: Not then, but, well, some years later it did. Mr. Holding, the head of the mission, was very good at coming over to the States and recruiting. He got lots of young people and they were all good people but eventually they all left and joined other missions, became very good missionaries.
ERICKSEN: What was his first name?
ERICKSEN: So then your father began his work with the American Bible Society in China. What particularly was he doing?
CROSSETT: He was over the province of Hunan. [pauses] He traveled around the province a lot and he trained colporteurs.
ERICKSEN: For selling Bibles?
ERICKSEN: And when you say he traveled a lot, in a year was he away quite a bit of the time? Would he take...?
CROSSETT: He was away a good part of time. I don't remember the number of months that he was away. Maybe a month at a time. Then he would be home for a while. But I don't remember his...his schedule.
ERICKSEN: And what exactly did he do when he went out on these...on the trips?
CROSSETT: Well, he went into villages, sold Gospels, gave out tracts and things, and preached. But he also trained colporteurs. I...I don't remember the colporteurs ever going with him. Maybe they did go with him. But I know when our family went with him, there were no colporteurs along. They went out throughout the province and then they'd come in about once a month and report what they had been doing. And he would give them more supplies and train them more and...and I don't know what else he did.
ERICKSEN: And then he would periodically check with them and...?
CROSSETT: Every month.
ERICKSEN: And was his...his area of responsibility, while he was in the Society, always in Hunan?
ERICKSEN: Where were you living when your father was about...?
CROSSETT: We were living in Changsha.
CROSSETT: Some of the time we were in the mountains of Kuling. We went practically every summer, and when...when the Kuling American school started, we stayed up there a year while we went to...we children went to school. My father stayed in Changsha.
ERICKSEN: Going back to the colporteurs for a moment, how did your father actually recruit them?
CROSSETT: I think it was through other missions. They recommended young men in their...their mission. I don't know. I think that that's the way he did it.
ERICKSEN: I know some...I mean, this is...we're talking about your father's work and not work that you've done so it may be more difficult. Did you ever get any sense of whether your father found it easy or difficult to sell Bibles to the Chinese? How...were they...the Chinese receptive?
CROSSETT: I don't know. I know that, when we went with him on...up the rivers and stopped at the villages, the people were eager to get the literature. When...how much they bought, I don't know, but I think they...it was not too hard to sell.
ERICKSEN: What was it they...that they seemed eager about?
CROSSETT: Well, the Chinese have always honored the printed page and anything that's...that can be...that is printed or that they can read, they want. But the women usually couldn't read, but the men wanted to read. But the tracts, we kids would go out and give out these tracts and they would just grab. People would just crowd around us and want the tracts.
ERICKSEN: Were there any...were there any obstacles that your father faced in his work distributing tracts and whatnot?
CROSSETT: That I don't know. [chuckles]
ERICKSEN: What...you mentioned the times that you went along with your father. Do you remember any of those...?
CROSSETT: Oh, yes. Trips?
ERICKSEN: Can you tell me about...?
CROSSETT: My father would hire great big junk and we'd move our kitchen, [laughs] a lot of our furniture and everything on this...on these big junks and take along the cook and....
ERICKSEN: Your mother went too?
CROSSETT: Oh, yes, the whole family went. We just set up house in the junk and the beds were.... We had the kitchen and then the living room and then the beds were just boards with straw on them down the little alleyway, the little hall. And we slept on those beds, but we always had a lot of fun on those junks. They were so big and we could play hide and seek and play a lot of games [chuckles] and we loved it. We were usually gone about a month at a time. When my father's sister was with us, she was our teacher, so we had school on the junk. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: So it wasn't all fun?
CROSSETT: Well, we enjoyed school too. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: And when you weren't...when you weren't on the boat, I...presumably you would land somewhere and....
CROSSETT: Only at night. We...the boats never traveled at night. And if we stopped at a village, we...we children would get out give out tracts and then come back on the boat. We didn't stay on the land. There's...there was quite a bit of anti-foreign feeling, too. It was better for us not to be too visible.
ERICKSEN: Is that something that you...the anti-foreign feeling, is that something that you heard your parents talk about or is that something that you actually experienced?
CROSSETT: Oh, we experienced some of it. I remember when we were going up to Kuling one time and I was sitting in a sedan chair to be carried. A woman came up to me and just slapped me as hard as I...as she could.
ERICKSEN: On the face?
CROSSETT: On the face. And I started crying and my father said, "Never mind. Remember it's for Jesus sake." There was anti-foreign feeling.
ERICKSEN: So the fears were, to some degree, very real.
CROSSETT: Yes. [pauses] Of course, there were a lot of wars going on, too. The revolution was...was on in 1911. That I remember very clearly.
ERICKSEN: Anything in.... What do you remember particularly?
CROSSETT: We were in Changsha and the...the battle was fought right around our house. I remember some...some officer was shot off his horse, and the horse was so excited he jumped over our wall and into our yard and was just chasing around.
ERICKSEN: Did you watch all this happen?
CROSSETT: I watched the horse. [laughs] I was inside the house. The...the bullets were flying around. My mother kept us inside.
ERICKSEN: Now that...you say that would have been in 1911?
ERICKSEN: So you were five years old. Was that the first...the first time that you had been close to actual war?
CROSSETT: I don't know. [chuckles] I guess it was.
ERICKSEN: First you could remember.
CROSSETT: I just...I just...I remember that I wasn't scared at that time, but we had to flee as soon as the battle was over. And my father sent a servant with us children to take us on to the river boat, on the Shan [?] River there. And I was scared then, because we were separated from our parents, and it was war. But when we...we got in the little...the row boat and rowed out to the ship, when we got there we could see our parents up on deck. That took away the fear.
ERICKSEN: Now, what ship was that?
CROSSETT: It was a...a...the British had a ship line that went up the rivers. We went...we took a couple of days to get up to Hanchow. And at that time, they...there was a battle on between Hanchow and Huchang [?]. They were firing across the river and that was the Jiangxi River. And the boats were lying [?] there and the captain of the ship ordered us to stay in our cabins. We had to change ships there and we stayed in our cabin until the captain gave orders that we were to run as fast as we could to the next ship he had berthed right near. I remember just running across. We were with another missionary family that...they were expecting the father to meet them at the ship and he didn't come. But they got a note saying that he had been shot. He had been watching a battle and a stray bullet hit him. He lived, but it was kind of an exciting time.
ERICKSEN: How long were you in Hanchow then?
CROSSETT: Oh, just [pauses] a few hours.
ERICKSEN: And then...?
CROSSETT: We had to change ships.
ERICKSEN: And were did you go from there?
CROSSETT: Then we went to...up to Jejang [?] and up to Kuling, to the mountain.
ERICKSEN: And how long did you stay there?
CROSSETT: We stayed there all winter. Not my father, but the family. We stayed up there all winter....
ERICKSEN: So then your mother followed?
CROSSETT: [while Ericksen is speaking]...and summer, too. She was with us.
ERICKSEN: Oh, she came on the ship with you.
CROSSETT: Oh, yes. My father was on the ship, too.
ERICKSEN: Okay. And did you return to Changsha then, sometime later?
CROSSETT: Uh-huh. I think it was in the fall.
ERICKSEN: Had things quieted down?
CROSSETT: Yeah. The revolution was over [pauses]. And they had a different flag. [chuckles]
ERICKSEN: Do you.... It's a lot to happen to a five-year-old. Do you remember anything that had changed in the town?
CROSSETT: In Changsha?
ERICKSEN: Other than the flag.
CROSSETT: [pauses] Not particularly. I don't remember.
ERICKSEN: Was the anti-foreign feeling still...?
CROSSETT: Well, there was...it was always tense. My father was going into the city one time and they...they arrested him. They said he was a Japanese. My father was fair like you. [coughs] They said he was a Japanese spy [clears throat]. They kept him for a little while, just a few hours, and then they let him go. But there was just always that tenseness.
ERICKSEN: Could you...can you tell me a little about the city of Changsha?
CROSSETT: Well, at that time it was a big city and it was walled, and....
ERICKSEN: When you say big, what is...?
CROSSETT: I wouldn't know. Oh, the population--maybe a million. I don't know. But it was quite a large city for.... It was the capital of the province and since...after that, it grew a lot bigger than that. There were other missions in the city, a number of other missions. And Yale College was building their college out there, too, at that time. And I don't know what else to say. After that they built a bund [an embankment or dike] along the river, but there wasn't any bund when we were there.
ERICKSEN: I'm sorry I didn't....
CROSSETT: A bund. They always call them bunds when they build up the...the river banks with...with stones and make it so there's a parkway along there. But when we were children, there was no bunds, but just the river...the river...the natural river bank, and the little boats [unclear].
[Voices on tape become very faint]
ERICKSEN: Was there anywhere in the city that you enjoyed going?
CROSSETT: Well, some of the other missions had children's parties at Christmas time. We always enjoyed that. And then they had a...an English service Sunday afternoons at one of the missions [not audible]. And when we got older, mother allowed us to wander around the city a bit. We went into all kinds of places [chuckles], different temples, a fire worshiper temple, and different things, and then up the fire...they had a fire tower. We'd go up there and wa...look over the city there.
ERICKSEN: How...when you say you were older, when would that be?
CROSSETT: Oh, when...about seven or eight. And my brothers were older and they'd take the front [laughs]. We'd just wander around and visit interesting places [chuckles].
ERICKSEN: Tell me about...I'd like to hear about these temples. What were the fire worship...fire worshiper temples like [?]?
CROSSETT: Yeah, they didn't have any idols. They just had a fire burning and people were worshi...worshiping the fire. They had big coils of incense hung from the ceiling and they were burning the incense. I don't remember anything much besides....
ERICKSEN: Was it a dark place inside or...? Was it big, little?
CROSSETT: It was quite large and it wasn't too dark. They had lights, not electric lights. We didn't have electricity. But they had candles, I guess, or something, so....
ERICKSEN: A lot of people there?
CROSSETT: Not a lot. But there were some in there worshiping the fire [pauses]. Of course, the Buddhist temples were dullest, most of...like...very much alike. They always had the big Buddha's and lots of idols around and people burning incense and bowing to the idols.
ERICKSEN: Do you remember how you felt, seeing these places, and seeing all the people worshiping the idols?
CROSSETT: I just thought they were stupid [laughs]. When we were...one summer we didn't go to Kuling. We went to an island in the middle of the Shan [?] River there where they had a mountain. And...and we just put up...my father had sort of a wooden tent built. And we just stayed up there just above a big temple. And we kids used to go down and play in the temple, and hide behind the idols, play hide and seek [laughs], watch all the ceremonies going on.
ERICKSEN: No one minded?
CROSSETT: They didn't mind [chuckles].
ERICKSEN: You also mentioned the fire tower. What was that?
CROSSETT: Well, they didn't have electricity. They had no way of notifying when there was a fire. But they had this tower and a bell at the top of the tower. And they had watchmen up there to watch over the city, and if there was a fire they would ring the bell, and the fire brigade would get out. The fire brigade was just a wagon with some cans of water on it that people dragged [laughs] as fast as they could to the fire.
ERICKSEN: Did it ever do any good?
CROSSETT: I don't know. I don't think so.
ERICKSEN: Seems like fires take lots of water and....
CROSSETT: Yeah. Well, they often had the nearest well. They'd have people with bucket brigades.
ERICKSEN: Was there quite a bit of...of cooperation? I mean, would the city all just pitch in and take care of something like that?
CROSSETT: The city...? I suppose....
ERICKSEN: Or...I mean, the people in the community.
CROSSETT: Oh, yeah, they would. They didn't want their houses burnt.
ERICKSEN: Now how were the houses built? Were they...was it like apartments, just right...one right next to another?
CROSSETT: Yeah, usually were.... In the city, I think, they were...they were shops on the first floor and then they'd...people would live on the upstairs. Don't think they had more than two stories at the most.
ERICKSEN: What were the buildings made of?
CROSSETT: Brick [pauses]. In the country they're made of sun-dried bricks but....
ERICKSEN: [Pauses] So you used to climb up the fire tower.
CROSSETT: We did that once or twice [chuckles] just to see what was going on.
ERICKSEN: Anywhere else exciting that you went on these trips with your brothers?
CROSSETT: We went into the first department store, I remember, when it was newly opened. My brothers took me in and it was funny. It was...you just went in and...and went in a sort of a semicircle around to the gate again...a circle. And they had little booths all along and that was the department store [chuckles].
ERICKSEN: Remember anything that was on...that was being sold in there?
CROSSETT: There was a lot of different varieties of things. Clothes and...and metal things and wooden things. I don't know. I don't remember just exactly what they were.
ERICKSEN: Were things more expensive in this store?
CROSSETT: That I don't know.
CROSSETT: We used to...used to have men come by our gate who were selling hand-made toys and...and sometimes they were selling candy, stuff. And we'd always ask my father for a...at those...in those days they had the cash, you know, with the square holes in the middle, and we could...we'd ask him, he'd give us a cash and we'd go out and buy a toy or buy a piece of candy.
ERICKSEN: Did he usually give you a cash to go out?
CROSSETT: Yeah, just at the gate. Just....
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh. Now, could you tell me about your home? You mentioned that a lot of the buildings were built right next to each other, but you also mentioned that you had a gate around your house that the horse came over.
CROSSETT: We were outside the city.
CROSSETT: We lived outside the north gate and we...my father had rented quite a big house. And it was a two story building and we lived upstairs and downstairs he had his offices and his book place and.... Yeah, we had a wall around it and a gate and a gate keeper.
ERICKSEN: So when you...how did you get into the city? I...I don't know how far you were away.
CROSSETT: We were just outside the north gate. We could just walk about a block or so and we'd go...get in.
ERICKSEN: Was there someone at the gate that guarded...?
CROSSETT: They always had guards at the gates.
ERICKSEN: Did they have...what...uniforms or...?
CROSSETT: Yeah, they were soldiers.
ERICKSEN: What were their uniforms like?
CROSSETT: [laughs] I don't know what the...I don't remember their...what their uniforms were. They changed according to different regimes, but....
ERICKSEN: Did they have guns with them?
CROSSETT: I imagine they did, but I don't remember.
ERICKSEN: [pauses] You also mentioned that you went up to Kuling. And your sister mentioned on her tape that your folks had bought a holiday cottage or something there.
CROSSETT: [while Ericksen is speaking] We had a house...we had a house there.
ERICKSEN: What was that like?
CROSSETT: It was stone house. It was built on the side of the hill. It had a big...big garden in front with trees...tall trees and not much behind, a few trees behind, but we had a...an extra building for the kitchen and for the servants' quarters. And then we had a little cottage besides that...where any guests that came stayed.
ERICKSEN: How many rooms were in the house?
CROSSETT: [pauses] Well, we had two, three...I think at least three bedrooms and a dining room and.... Then my father had built on a great big glassed-in porch which we used for a living room. And then the little coffee....[not audible]
ERICKSEN: Was it...was it usual for a missionary to be home schooled?
CROSSETT: Well, many missionaries did because it got so hot down on the plains [?] they couldn't stay and keep well. They would come up to the mountains for the summer. [not audible] I think all missionary children when they lived there thought that that was the best place in the world. It was so pretty and there were so many places you could hide, and we could look down in the mountains over the valley see all the farms and the village. It was beautiful.
ERICKSEN: Do you remember anywhere that you went [not audible]?
CROSSETT: [pauses] I don't remember. We...we just hiked all over the place [chuckles].
ERICKSEN: Were there always a lot of other missionary children there too?
ERICKSEN: Now were you living right in the city?
CROSSETT: There wasn't any city. It was just a hillside resort.
CROSSETT: The only place you could buy anything was up...what we called the gap. It was the entrance to the...to the valley, and there the Chinese had stores, and.... There was one Japanese store, I remember, and that they had the toys [laughs]. That's where we used to congregate. It was called Banzai. We always thought that the people were called banzai, but banzai, of course, means hurrah in Japanese. But we always called them Mr. and Mrs. Banzai [chuckles].
ERICKSEN: Now, why would it have a Japanese name?
CROSSETT: Because they're Japanese running it.
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh. Okay. [pauses] When you would go to Kuling during the summer, would all the missionaries get together... occasionally for whatever, meetings or...?
CROSSETT: They had a church...there was a church there, a beautiful stone church. Yeah, they had union services every Sunday and Sunday school and...
ERICKSEN: And who ran those?
CROSSETT: ...all summer long. Well, they had a committee made up of various missions and then they'd...they'd appoint a committee. And then the committee would run the church, and appoint the ones to preach, and look after the Sunday school. It was a summer time committee. And then they would...those who could sing got together. They put on oratorios, like Elijah, the Messiah. They'd sing. They'd give concerts. Some who were...had had voice training would give a whole concert at times. They had a lot of different activities.
ERICKSEN: Now, were the people living there mostly English-speaking or were there also...? I know there were other nationalities of missionaries from the west.
CROSSETT: Mostly English and American.
ERICKSEN: How did the English and the Americans get along?
CROSSETT: Fine. Hardly no trouble.
ERICKSEN: Speaking of missionaries getting along, where there any ever...ever any difficulties between missionaries in Changsha that...?
CROSSETT: Not that I know of. We always had a good time together.
ERICKSEN: [pauses] Your...your sister mentioned in the interview that there were...there were six of you children.
ERICKSEN: Let me make sure I've got the order right. Curtis was the eldest, then Nathan, then Edward...?
CROSSETT: Edwards was the youngest. Edwards.
CROSSETT: He was named for my mother's maiden name.
ERICKSEN: Then you.
CROSSETT: I was af...no, I was the third.
ERICKSEN: And then came Ruth.
CROSSETT: Uh-huh. And then Francis.
ERICKSEN: [simultaneously] And then Francis and then Edwards.
CROSSETT: Edwards. Uh-huh.
ERICKSEN: [pauses] Had you...I know that at some point along the line you all moved back...the whole family moved back to the United States. Were all the children born by that time?
ERICKSEN: Okay. So you were all in on this...going out with your father and going to Kuling and....
CROSSETT: Well, Edwards was much younger so he came along afterward. But I don't know if he ever went on one of these...those boat trips or not.
ERICKSEN: How did the six of you get along together?
CROSSETT: Got along fine. Don't remember. Oh, all children have squabbles, but....
ERICKSEN: Yeah. I...were there ever any...were there, like, natural groupings within the children? Were there...I mean, was there maybe a brother or sister that you were a little more chummy with than...than the rest?
CROSSETT: Well, Nathan and I were pretty good friends. We're very close together. We're only fourteen months apart. And then, of course, my two sisters, I...we all went around together. And then I looked after Edwards. From the time he was born I just...he was my responsibility. I toted him around everywhere I went.
ERICKSEN: Now how...when was he born?
CROSSETT: He was born in 1914.
ERICKSEN: So you were eight when....
CROSSETT: Uh-huh. He was my doll [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Did he like that?
CROSSETT: Oh yeah, I imagine he did. Mother let me look after him most of the times and I loved it.
ERICKSEN: Do you recall how you felt about your father being away a lot?
CROSSETT: [pauses] I don't remember. It just seemed natural.
ERICKSEN: [pauses] We talked about your traveling with your father. I also noticed from Ruth's interview that your mother was a doctor.
ERICKSEN: Had she had medical training in this country?
CROSSETT: She had...went three years to Northwestern [University ?] and then by that time they were planning to go to China. They had applied to the CIM [China Inland Mission] and they were candidates so they went to Toronto. Mother was finished, took her last year in Toronto University and graduated. And Hudson Taylor was the first one to congratulate her.
ERICKSEN: And then what...that would have been in what year?
CROSSETT: But by that time the Boxer trouble was on and the CIM released all their candidates. That's why my parents went out under the South Chili Mission. They decided they were in too big a hurry. If they'd waited a year they would have been CIM.
ERICKSEN: Your mother worked at...at the clinic in Changsha. Isn't that right?
CROSSETT: No, I don't think she did in Changsha, but in Kuling.
CROSSETT: When we were up there she worked in the gap, in the clinic that they had there. But before...before she had too many children, why she...when they were in the...in the South Chili Mission she did a lot of medical work. But then when the...she had too many children she just couldn't keep on with medical work. She used to gather us around her and she said I can't do my medical...my missionary work, but you're going to be my missionaries [chuckles]. So she trained us.
ERICKSEN: So when she did do medical work in Kuling, what...what sorts of things did that include?
CROSSETT: I don't know. I just know that she went up to the gap [chuckles]. There one of her good friends, who was in medical college with her, lived, was a missionary, too, and they both worked up there as doctors in the gap. But I don't...I don't know. It was just ordinary clinic work, I guess.
ERICKSEN: Was it...were there mostly Chinese people coming in or was...?
CROSSETT: They were Chinese, yeah.
ERICKSEN: Remember any of...were there any common diseases or anything that your mother talked about that you can recall?
CROSSETT: I don't remember. I came name a lot, [laughs] not that she talked about.
ERICKSEN: Yeah. Maybe you were busy playing and didn't have time.
CROSSETT: Probably [laughs]. I just knew she went up there and then came back, and I don't know what she did.
ERICKSEN: [pauses] Was wondering, too, whether with your mother...mother's medical background and whether missionaries would occasionally come to her for...for treatment?
CROSSETT: Well, after they retired...they retired in Kuling. My father died there. But when they were living there in our home in Kuling (it was after we were in this country), the...the children...the missionary children used to come in and get doctored up by her. But I don't know if other people went to her or not. But I know she...she had a lot of the children. If they'd hurt themselves or anything they'd run to her, and if they had any cold or a fever or anything, then the parents would bring them to her.
ERICKSEN: [pauses] When your...when your folks first went out to China, did they plan to...for him to do medic...or him to do church planting work and for her to do medical, was that...?
CROSSETT: I think that was the idea.
ERICKSEN: Did that seem to work out well?
CROSSETT: I suppose so. I don't remember. I was only a year old when they left there.
ERICKSEN: Did you learn much Chinese as a child?
CROSSETT: Oh, just a child's vocabulary, but it was enough so that, when I went back as missionary.... I thought I'd forgotten it all, but I could understand right away [chuckles].
ERICKSEN: Yeah. So did you...who...who were your playmates in China when you were living in Changsha?
CROSSETT: Just mostly our brothers and sisters, but sometimes some of the kids from other missions would come in and play. We had a big yard and swings and paddle [?] bars and everything. They'd come in to play.
ERICKSEN: Did you ever play with Chinese children?
CROSSETT: No. Mother wasn't happy with us playing with Chinese children. I suppose she thought we'd learn things we shouldn't learn. So....
ERICKSEN: Did she ever say anything?
CROSSETT: She just told us she didn't want us to play with them. I don't blame her. I did the same with my own girls [chuckles], cause there's too much foul language.
ERICKSEN: We'll have to get to that later. [Crossett chuckles, pauses] Do you remember any feelings of being different when you were in China, the fact that there were mostly Chinese around you?
CROSSETT: I don't remember. That was...I was used to that. I remember being stared at all the time and followed. And when we came home when I was eleven, we were living in California and some woman asked me, "Have you lived here all your life?" And I looked at her [laughs]. I just thought I looked Chinese enough to know that people would know I hadn't lived there all my life [laughs], so....
ERICKSEN: Why would...why would people follow you in...?
CROSSETT: Because we looked different.
ERICKSEN: Adults, children, ev...?
CROSSETT: Everybody. We didn't dress like they did so we looked different.
ERICKSEN: How'd that make you feel?
CROSSETT: I just was so used to it, it didn't bother me. I was amazed when I came home that nobody stared at me [laughs], nobody followed me.
ERICKSEN: Did...were there...were there any beggars in the town?
CROSSETT: Oh, yes, lots of beggars.
ERICKSEN: Were they ever asking you for money?
CROSSETT: Always, uh-huh, always begging. We didn't dare give them except once in a while, but if we did then we'd have the whole mob after us.
ERICKSEN: Did that ever happen?
CROSSETT: Yes. We used to give once in a while to leprosy beggars who would sit by the side of the road and they were so ugly and so pathetic we'd give some to them. And then the others would come and ask.
ERICKSEN: Now, was that just you the children that were doing that or would that be your parents?
CROSSETT: Well, we got the money from our parents, but we gave...gave it, yeah.
ERICKSEN: You mentioned...we were talking before about some of the temples. Do you remember seeing any other aspects of Chinese religious life while you were growing up?
CROSSETT: Well, the Buddhist...Buddhist temples, we used to watch the ceremonies and they'd have the priest who'd stand in front and hold their hands and bow and chant and...and then they'd ring bells and beat little drums and everything. They parade around the temple grounds and.... Then there were the Daoists temples. They're different from the Buddhists. They had idols but they always had a...a bamboo screen in front of the idol, so you couldn't see it unless you went around the screen. And the priests were different. They dressed differently, they always had topknots on their heads and the Buddhist priests were shaved. And then there was a Confucius temple where they had no idols, just tablets, because they aren't idol worshipers. They're out for...they're more of...intellectual. It...it really wasn't a religion until later, but it became a religion. But it's more of...they followed the teachings of Confucius.
ERICKSEN: From what you can remember as a child, which...would you say that most people in the town were Buddhist, or were most of them Confucians, or...?
CROSSETT: Well, Chinese are syncretists. They worship everything. They...they mix them all up. They're Buddhists, Daoist, Confucianists. They don't distinguish. They don't say, "I am just a Buddhist and will not go to the Daoists." They are...they're syncretic. When Ruth and I were in Tungcheng, there was a man across from the street from us who was Moslem. And he came and said, "I've...I've joined the Buddhists, I've joined the Daoists, I've joined the Catholics, now I want to join you because I want to get to heaven." [laughs] But he was a Muslim. But that was...that's the Chinese philosophy. Just be everything.
ERICKSEN: Did you often get that kind of...did people approach you often with that?
CROSSETT: Yeah, kind of. They couldn't see why we were exclusive.
ERICKSEN: What would you tell them?
CROSSETT: I'd say, "Well, there's only one way. And you can only come to Christ...come to heaven by Christ."
ERICKSEN: Did you find that...that people who were sort of wanting to add one more religion to their little collection often did do that, that they would turn away from all those others and become Christians...?
CROSSETT: Well, those that were saved did do that, yes. Some of them pretended to do it [chuckles], but most...most of them that came really were saved.
ERICKSEN: What about these...the Yale men that you mentioned?
CROSSETT: Well, they...they sent out...Yale College sent out young students or young graduates. I don't know. I guess they were graduates. They would come out to teach in the school there at...in Changsha. And they were interested in the missionaries' children, and they used to take us to the Yale football field, or soccer field it was, and give us exercises and play games with us and teach us how to play soccer. We enjoyed that. And then they would show films once in a while. Moving pictures, the first we'd ever seen. And I don't remember what they were about, but they'd gather us for a party or something and then show these moving pictures.
ERICKSEN: Who were they teaching?
CROSSETT: Chinese students.
ERICKSEN: So they would need to learn Chinese, too, to....
CROSSETT: No, they taught in English.
ERICKSEN: Oh. So who would the Chinese be that were coming to them?
CROSSETT: They were...I guess they were high school graduates.
ERICKSEN: The well-to-do?
CROSSETT: Probably, yeah, I don't know. I didn't...I never investigated that.
ERICKSEN: Did any of these Yale men ever come to your home?
CROSSETT: Yes. They'd come when we'd have a Christmas party or something, they'd come. I know once one of them dressed up like Santa Claus. Scared Ruth to...so she wouldn't come out. She stayed in the bedroom [laughs].
ERICKSEN: In listening to her interview I remember her talking about that.
ERICKSEN: So there...there seems to have been a sense of community with all the Christian workers in the town?
CROSSETT: Yes. There's very close community...community feeling.
ERICKSEN: How...how did your mother cope with your father being away as much as he was?
CROSSETT: Well, my aunt was with her.
ERICKSEN: When did she come?
CROSSETT: She came when I was about seven, I think. And she...she introduced me to school. I had never been to school before. And she taught me how to read and she was our teacher and we loved her very much. And she helped mother with all of us.
ERICKSEN: So that was one of the ways your mother coped?
CROSSETT: Uh-huh. And, of course, we had servants that did the cooking and laundry and so she didn't...didn't have all that to worry about.
ERICKSEN: Was your...were your parents strong disciplinarians? Were they...?
CROSSETT: My mother was very gentle. Father was very strict [chuckles].
ERICKSEN: So how did that work out if your father was away and you did something that...?
CROSSETT: Well, mother was the kind that could look at you and you'd crush [laughs], you'd weep. Father could scold like everything and it wouldn't bother us [laughs].
ERICKSEN: So, if your dad was away and you did something that you needed to be punished for, did your mon...mother stare at you or did she wait...?
CROSSETT: No. She just looked grieved and that would...that was all she needed to do.
ERICKSEN: Did she tell your dad when he got home and...?
CROSSETT: I don't think so.
ERICKSEN: Was there anyone in the family who seemed to be, I don't want to say naughtier, but seemed to get more of the...the scoldings and the nasty looks?
CROSSETT: [laughs] I don't know.
ERICKSEN: It wasn't you?
CROSSETT: I don't think so. I think Ruth might have been. Oh, I'm n...I don't know.
ERICKSEN: You mentioned that your father was kind of strict, was very strict. Was he a serious man?
ERICKSEN: Or playful?
CROSSETT: He was very good at...with children, telling Bible stories and teaching us to sing. He liked to sing and...and we'd have family sings. He was very good at telling Bible stories, but he also was quite quick-tempered and we were afraid of him.
ERICKSEN: Did you...I presume you saw a lot of him when he was home?
CROSSETT: Yes, quite a bit.
ERICKSEN: Or was he busy studying in his office and...?
CROSSETT: No. We saw quite a bit of him.
ERICKSEN: [pauses] You mentioned your mother was gentle. Is there anything else you can tell me about your mother? What she was like?
CROSSETT: Well, she loved to read to us. She used to read a lot. She...she read...read lots of good books to us. And she'd read the Bible to us. I remember one time she was taking a nap and I crept up by her on the bed. And I said, "Read to me." She said, "What do you want me to read?" And I said, "The story of Joseph." So she read the whole thing through to me, and I said, "Read it again." So she read it all through again. And I said, "Read it again." She said, "I think that's enough" [laughs].
ERICKSEN: How old were you then?
CROSSETT: I don't remember. I maybe have been six or so [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Reminds me of my three-year-old [both laugh]. Do you remember any other of the stories that you...you were read when you were small that you liked?
CROSSETT: We read Pilgrim's Progress, the whole thing, not the abridged. We loved it. And we read a book called Greek Heroes, about all the Greek gods and the Greek stories and then...then the Tang...is it Tanglewood Tales by...? Is it Longfellow or somebody, one of those. And, oh, I don't remember. We read the Little Colonel books. Have you ever heard of them? There's a whole series of books about a little girl from the South and...and the life in plantation days and it's a whole series. Takes you from a little girl until she grows up. And it's...it was excellent book. And we loved those, too. And I don't remember what else. Oh, The Secret Garden, and a lot of those books that mother read to us even before we could read ourselves.
ERICKSEN: What...what would a typical day have been like when you were growing up in China, let's say, living in Changsha?
CROSSETT: Well, we...I don't know. We'd get up, play and.... [train in the background]
ERICKSEN: What time would you get up?
CROSSETT: We usually got up about six, I think, because we had family prayers in the morning.
ERICKSEN: Before breakfast?
CROSSETT: I think it was usually before breakfast.
ERICKSEN: And what would that...what would family prayers consist of?
CROSSETT: Singing, reading the Bible, catechism, and prayer. Fa...we were taught to pray, each of us pray around, from the time we were tiny.
ERICKSEN: So that was the way you started your day.
CROSSETT: I think that was the way we...I remember it...that we did that. And then we'd...we'd have...when we were old enough, we were in school. We had a schoolroom in our home, and Aunt Rose taught us. And then after school we'd just play in the yard [train in the background].
ERICKSEN: Now would school hours be from...I suppose you had breakfast right after prayer time and then school would start right away?
CROSSETT: [while Ericksen is speaking] We'd have breakfast. Yeah, I think, pretty soon after that.
ERICKSEN: All morning?
ERICKSEN: All afternoon?
CROSSETT: Part of the afternoon.
ERICKSEN: And then you'd have play time?
CROSSETT: Part of the time Dad hired a Chinese teacher to try to teach us Chinese, but we got around him [chuckles].
ERICKSEN: How did you get around him?
CROSSETT: Well, in the first place, usually he didn't know how to teach foreign children. He tried to teach us like Chinese children, and...or he tried to adapt, according to my father's instructions, and he didn't know how to do it. So we wanted to play out doors, so we said we were going out to play and he could come and teach us out there. So [laughs] we went out and we'd say, "What's the word for swings, the word for teeter-totter, and [laughs] what's the word for running."
ERICKSEN: Did you e...did you learn those words?
CROSSETT: Yeah, we learned those words and he tried to cope with us, but we weren't learning his Chinese well [chuckles].
ERICKSEN: And how long did that last?
CROSSETT: Just until father found out. Then he decided not to have a teacher any more [laughs].
ERICKSEN: So [not audible] a year, a couple years?
CROSSETT: Just a few months [unclear].
ERICKSEN: You were talking about your day; what time was [not audible].
CROSSETT: Well, we had supper at six [inaudible].
ERICKSEN: [not audible]
CROSSETT: And...and then we played games [unclear] something like that often. I don't know [not audible].
[Voices fade out under tape noise]
ERICKSEN: [not audible]
CROSSETT: [not audible]
ERICKSEN: What kind of food were you [unclear]?
CROSSETT: [Unclear] of course, we had to cook western foods [unclear].
ERICKSEN: Did you ever [inaudible] how you felt about that?
CROSSETT: [not audible] get acquainted [not audible] came home a lot of them had died or lived too far away [inaudible]
ERICKSEN: Was there any furlough that you [not audible]?
CROSSETT: No. [not audible] I came home 1917 [not audible].
ERICKSEN: You were...you were [not audible].
ERICKSEN: Like to talk about your education [not audible]. Are there any other people [unclear] that you remember from your childhood [inaudible]?
CROSSETT: No. A friend I had in Kuling, I remember there that winter, he loved the snow and ice.
ERICKSEN: [not audible].
CROSSETT: Oh, when we went up for school. We went and left Chili but we were in China before we came home and we went into the American school, my mother stayed up there. [not audible]. And we had sleds and bobsleds and...and we just had a lot of fun in the snow and ice. [unclear] We used to go up on the hillside and just go bumpity-bump down. [inaudible] We'd have Christmas parties [unclear]. We had a bobsled that would hook up to the back and then it'd [unclear]. The largest one would sit on the bobsled and then all of us would put our legs around each one and have a long train [unclear]. It must have been a mile [inaudible].
ERICKSEN: [not audible]
CROSSETT: We went up there in the winter time [unclear].
END OF TAPE