This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Margaret Rice Elliott Crossett (CN287, T3) 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 are 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. For example, Peking may be used instead of Beijing, because that is how the interviewee pronounced it. In a few cases words may have been 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 March 1996.
Collection 287, T3. Interview of Margaret Rice Elliott Crossett by Paul A. Ericksen, February 15, 1985.
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 office of the Archives of the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, Illinois, on Friday, February 15, 1985, at 2:30 pm. Well, Mrs. Crossett, at the end of our last interview, we were talking about Wheaton College, [pauses] just...just at the point where you had come to the College. You said that your father had attended Wheaton and you'd heard about Wheaton as you'd been growing up. That's why you came there.
ERICKSEN: Did it match up with what you expected from it?
CROSSETT: I didn't know what to expect. I just knew that it was a good Christian college and my father had been greatly influenced by his year here. In fact, it was when he was in Wheaton that he decided to be a missionary to China.
ERICKSEN: Do you remember any classes that were particularly...particular favorites of yours while you were here at Wheaton?
CROSSETT: I liked Dr. [Perry] Straw's class very much.
ERICKSEN: What class was that?
CROSSETT: It was rhetoric.
ERICKSEN: What was it that you liked?
CROSSETT: Well, he was teaching how to...how to construct conversations and things like that. He did it in a very unique way, so it was very interesting, I thought.
ERICKSEN: How did he...how did he do it?
CROSSETT: Well, he'd have us write things and...and often he'd have us write things on the board. As a class, we'd all write up on the board and his classes were always interesting, I thought. They...he...he didn't have us sit in rows and seats. Everybody sat around, so everybody was on the front row [laughs], sat around the walls. And the first thing you do is to...you're supposed to have a little devotions, so he'd call on anybody to get up and sing a song or pray. You'd never when you were going to get called on. And he'd find somebody who couldn't sing at all, then he'd have him sing often [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Are you one of those that couldn't sing, or...?
CROSSETT: No, I could sing so he didn't call on me too much. But it was an interesting introduction. And he'd give a topic for us to write on. We had a textbook that...and then we'd...we'd write a composition on that topic. Or one time he told us to tell...to use the word...the phrase, "Please pass the bread," and write it in forty-six different ways. And different things like that. That...it was interesting.
ERICKSEN: Now where in your four years did you have...?
CROSSETT: That was my first year. And what else was interesting [pauses]? I took some science classes that were interesting, zoology and things like that that I enjoyed. And [pauses] I don't remember [chuckles]. It's too long ago, I don't remember what courses I took. I majored in education, but there was too much repetition in that. I didn't care too much about it even though I majored in it.
ERICKSEN: In my last interview with Reverend Crossett, several months ago, he was talking about an incident. We were talking about dispensationalism, and he referred to an incident in a class where you raised some questions about dispensationalism. Do you recall that?
CROSSETT: No, I don't [chuckles].
ERICKSEN: Okay. [Pauses] Do you remember any of the...any of the things that students would talk about in the...in the...maybe any of the hot theological issues that...that students would discuss into the late hours of the night?
CROSSETT: I remember we used to have them, but I don't remember what they were about [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Were they about theological things or chit-chatty kind of...?
CROSSETT: Well, often they were on theological things. [Pauses] Arminianism and...and the eternal security we often talked about that because there were...there were...we lived up on fourth floor in...we called it "red castle" then, you know, and there were only eight of us up there. We used to get together and talk about...one of the girls was Salvation Army and she was Arminian and [laughs] we used to make her cry [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Were you just depressing her?
CROSSETT: I think we'd just argue about it.
ERICKSEN: What was...what was dorm life like, particularly up on the fourth floor?
CROSSETT: Well, we were kind of isolated from the other girls because we were up on the fourth floor and had those little narrow stairs to go up. Nobody lives up there any more, but we...we...we were sort of a little clique of our own.
ERICKSEN: Had you been a clique or did you just become a clique of your own?
CROSSETT: We became a clique. Because we lived up there, we didn't mix with the other girls too much and we...we [train noise] called ourselves the Alpha Delta. Forgotten what it means, something about old maids, anyway [laughs]. And we had our own songs and then in literary society we put on a show one time, just the fourth floor girls. It was fun.
ERICKSEN: Did you have a reputation among the other girls as being sort of a distinct group?
CROSSETT: Yes. I don't know, they just thought we were sort of a privileged group because...the rooms weren't as nice as the other rooms but we had so much fun up there.
ERICKSEN: Why...why were you put up there?
CROSSETT: It was cheaper [chuckles] and none of us were rich and most of us were working our way through. Those rooms were cheap rooms.
ERICKSEN: Now, you say you always used to have fun. What other kinds of things would you...?
CROSSETT: We had spreads at night and....
ERICKSEN: What is that?
CROSSETT: Spread? Oh, it was when we had our little parties. We'd make cocoa and have sandwiches and just have fun. We could do it up there and the other girls wouldn't know anything about it.
ERICKSEN: You said you had your own songs. Were those songs that you wrote yourselves or...?
CROSSETT: One of them was. It was our club song, Hail to the Alpha Delta [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Do you remember how it went?
CROSSETT: I don't know. It started off, "Hail to the Alpha Delta" [sings this part], but I don't remember the rest of it [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Sounds like it was fun.
CROSSETT: It was fun. We had....
ERICKSEN: Who were the eight girls?
CROSSETT: Different years there were different ones but some of them stayed on all through. Well, my first year it was...Olive Corbett [BA '30] and I roomed together and then...then the second year my two sisters and I were up there. And then....
ERICKSEN: You and Ruth?
CROSSETT: Ruth and my sister Francis, too. We all roomed in one room because we were sisters. And then the next year Ruth and Helen Nowack roomed together and Francis and I roomed. And one year, Vincent's...two of Vincent's sisters lived in the next room. The first year there was a girl called Ruth. I can't remember her last name, but her...her...she came from Panama and we called her Spickidy. She said the Panamanians were called Spicks, so we always called her Spickidy [laughs]. And, oh, I don't [pauses].... The Salvation Army girl was Violet Dean [Steiger; BA '29]. And I don't remember who the others were. Oh, yes, Pauline Ramsay ['28; married to Rev. George W. Marsden] and Violet Dean roomed together. Then...Pauline was only there one year and Spickidy was only there one year.
ERICKSEN: Was there any sort of initiation rite into the...the group.
CROSSETT: No [laughs].
ERICKSEN: You just got put on the fourth floor.
ERICKSEN: Okay. Were you involved in any activities outside of...[microphone noise] outside of class, extracurricular things, clubs, sports?
CROSSETT: I was...I was in the...in the Aolian Literary Society.
ERICKSEN: And what did you do in that?
CROSSETT: One year I was vice-president. I think it was my senior year. I was secretary for...for our class in my junior year, I think. I don't...I don't remember. I was working my way through. I didn't have much time for extracurricular things.
ERICKSEN: What sort of things did the literary society do?
CROSSETT: Well, we had for...quite formal meetings. And then we'd put on plays and we'd put...we had parliamentary drills, study Robert's Rules [Robert's Rules of Order] and then try to tangle everybody up [chuckles]. And the president who was presiding had to be very up on the parliamentary rules. It was a lot of fun. And then we had to write essays and deliver them, things like that.
ERICKSEN: What was the purpose of becoming so acquainted with Robert's Rules?
CROSSETT: Well, so you'd know how to conduct a meeting. A lot of people don't know how to conduct a meeting [laughs].
ERICKSEN: That's true [both chuckle].
CROSSETT: Yeah, I thought those literary societies were good, except that there was a...a lot of competition between them, which became sometimes quite bitter between the girls. And I don't know if the fellows' literary societies had that competition or not, but the girls got so...if you weren't in their literary society you were an enemy. So they had to do away with it, I imagine, eventually.
ERICKSEN: So the competition was between societies...
ERICKSEN: ...as opposed to within one.
CROSSETT: Yes, it was between societies and it wasn't in good spirit.
ERICKSEN: How many people would be in one society?
CROSSETT: We had about thirty girls in ours, we think. Some of the others had more.
ERICKSEN: And I gather from what you've said that there were men...I mean, the...the sexes were separated in the societies.
CROSSETT: Yes. Yeah, they had....
ERICKSEN: How would...how would you decide to...to be in a particular society? Would you just look at all of them and pick?
CROSSETT: We'd visit them and then decide which one we wanted to join.
ERICKSEN: And did they court people that they wanted?
CROSSETT: Oh, yes. They tried to get the freshmen in.
ERICKSEN: Sounds a little like a sorority.
CROSSETT: Yeah, it was sort of on that type. You had to be voted in.
ERICKSEN: You said that you were working. What sort of things did you...?
CROSSETT: Well, I'd wash dishes in the dining room, in the kitchen, and I cleaned the halls of the dorm and....
ERICKSEN: In Williston?
CROSSETT: Yes. And I often baby sat for people and cleaned houses in town and any work I could get. I got so that people knew me and they just phoned and asked me to come.
ERICKSEN: I guess that's how you start a business.
CROSSETT: Yeah. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: What about Christian service assignments? Did you have something like that that you were involved in?
CROSSETT: [train noise] We didn't have any assignments in those days, but we...we volunteered. [clears throat] I started a prayer group in the dorm which met early in the morning once a week. And then we...I was in a...in a prayer group that one of the professor's wives started. And we used to go out and hold meetings in different cities around. And [pauses] I remember I was in a Sunday school class, but.... My sisters and I used to sing trios and we used to go out in different churches and sing a lot.
ERICKSEN: How did that get started?
CROSSETT: Well, we started in high school. We used to sing a lot together.
ERICKSEN: Out in California?
CROSSETT: Uh-huh. And then we continued it in college [clears throat].
ERICKSEN: How...how would you make arrangements to sing in churches? Would you look for places to sing or would they call you?
CROSSETT: They'd call us. Yeah, we never solicited places.
ERICKSEN: [Microphone noise] We were talking about...about your working. Was there much financial aid offered by the College while you were here?
CROSSETT: No, once they gave me twenty-five dollars, but that's all I ever got. They did give...because I was a missionary's daughter, they gave half rates for tuition.
ERICKSEN: Do you recall what tuition was back then?
CROSSETT: No. It was very low compared to now.
ERICKSEN: Where were you going to church when you were here at Wheaton?
CROSSETT: I went to the College Church. It was meeting in Pierce Hall.
ERICKSEN: Were you active in the church?
CROSSETT: No. I just went to Sunday school.
ERICKSEN: Could you tell me about when you first met Mr. Crossett?
CROSSETT: The first day I was at Wheaton [chuckles].
ERICKSEN: How did that come about?
CROSSETT: We both happened to go to the first...to the Baptist church prayer meeting that night and that's where we met. The pastor asked everybody to give a testimony. I guess Vincent told you this.
ERICKSEN: No, we didn't talk about that.
CROSSETT: Oh, you didn't. He asked everybody in the meeting to give a testimony and all...everybody did except Vincent [laughs]. He calls and says, "Young man, why aren't you talking?" So he got up and gave a testimony to [unclear]. [clears throat] Then we met again...what was I doing, I was....he was scrubbing floors, I think, in the dining room and I was washing dishes or something. So, then we were in class...we were in a math class together, I remember, that year. We didn't see an awful lot of each other.
ERICKSEN: So, it was kind of a casual relationship?
ERICKSEN: Did it...was that basically the way it was throughout your whole time at Wheaton?
CROSSETT: Yeah, on my part [laughs]. He asked me for dates, but I didn't accept. I was...I was bound I was going to go to China and I didn't want anything to interfere.
ERICKSEN: Did he understand that?
CROSSETT: No, I don't think he did [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Well, it looks like things worked out for both of you.
CROSSETT: It took a lot of years.
ERICKSEN: Yeah? Well, we can come back to your relationship with him. I think this developed a little later. What were the rules of...they call them now the Statement of Responsibilities on campus, rules that you abide by? Were there [as Crossett begins to answer] rules like that then?
CROSSETT: There weren't too many rules. We were supposed to be in by ten o'clock. In fact, we were supposed to be in bed by ten o'clock, lights out, unless we had special permission.
ERICKSEN: Was that something that was widely observed or...?
CROSSETT: Most of the students observed it. Some of them got campused.
ERICKSEN: Some of them got what?
CROSSETT: That means they were restrained to campus. They couldn't go off the campus for a certain length of time because they broke the rules. We were not supposed to go to movies or theaters. We weren't supposed to have cars. There wer...otherwise, there weren't too many restrictions.
ERICKSEN: Were the Alpha Delta's ever up after ten?
CROSSETT: Secretly [laughs]. We were up there where the attic was and we could go in the attic. They had some old floor lamps up there and we hooked them up.
ERICKSEN: Were you ever caught?
CROSSETT: No [laughs].
ERICKSEN: In regard to the rules in general, was there any...was there resistance among the students to the rules?
CROSSETT: Not very many, no. Occasionally. There was to be no smoking. I remember one girl was caught smoking and she was kicked out. And one girl and one fellow were...didn't come back all night and the school inquired about that. They hadn't done anything wrong. They just got...it was apparently not possible for them to get back or something, but they were together and...and she was asked to stay out of school for a year and he was.... No, she was expelled and he was asked to stay out of school for a year. Then he could come back. And he was a senior. In fact, both of them were seniors, but she didn't graduate.
ERICKSEN: You mentioned earlier about Vince asking you out for a date. What was the social life of the campus in general like?
CROSSETT: Well, it was mostly on the campus, I think, the concerts and meetings in different churches, too, and some of them went into Chicago to orchestra concerts or something like that, too, I think. And then there were parties at...I remember we had a class party in Chicago in the home of one of the students and different things like that.
ERICKSEN: Was...was there much dating among students?
CROSSETT: Yes, there was a lot of dating, but I wasn't concerned [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Did you ever feel pressure to date? You knew why you didn't want to.
CROSSETT: No, I didn't have much interest in dating. I was only interested in studies and getting through college.
ERICKSEN: Okay. Speaking of pressures, were there...was there the academic pressure on campus, the pressure to excel, the...?
CROSSETT: I don't remember any such pressure. It would have to be with individual pressure, but I don't remember that there was any. Of course, there were honors given at graduation time, but I don't remember any other pressure particularly.
ERICKSEN: Was there competition between students?
CROSSETT: You mean to excel?
CROSSETT: I wasn't aware of it. There may have been. I was just a small pebble in the.... [laughs]
ERICKSEN: Can you tell me what the spiritual environment of the college was like?
CROSSETT: Well, it was...on the whole it was good. There were...there were a certain class of students that were kind of wild in the college.
ERICKSEN: In what way?
CROSSETT: Well, they would try...try to break the rules, I think, and they were...they were...they didn't show much spirituality at all. Some of them were not Christians and they would just say they weren't and they didn't care. They were sent there by their parents and treated like they were in a reform school [chuckles]. And we had spiritual life meetings every semester, a week of them, which was good. And some were saved during that time, but on the whole the spiritual life was quite good, I thought.
ERICKSEN: You mentioned that there wer...this group of students used to try to break the rules. Were there any particular ways that...any particular things that they did?
CROSSETT: Oh, they'd go in to movies and things like that. Oh, I forgot to tell you, I was in the Glee Club, too. But I didn't always go out on concerts because I was working.
ERICKSEN: For the spiritual life weeks, would there be a speaker that would come in?
ERICKSEN: Do you remember any of them?
CROSSETT: [Pauses] I don't remember. I can't remember. I...no, I just can't remember.
CROSSETT: I remember I enjoyed cap...chapel, but we.... Chapel was compulsory in those days. And they'd have some good speakers in chapel, too. We would...all sat in alphabetical order in chapel. And I remember F[rederick] B[rotherton] Meyer came one time and Dr. [Reuben Archer] Torrey . I don't remember others, but....
ERICKSEN: What would a chapel service be like?
CROSSETT: [Train noise] Oh, we'd sing, have a speaker, prayer usually.
ERICKSEN: Was it in the...what time of day was it held?
CROSSETT: Ten o'clock in the morning, every day. Sometimes they'd have a faculty member speak. The president would speak at times.
ERICKSEN: Was it five times a day...or five times a week?
ERICKSEN: [speaking to himself] Five times a day.
CROSSETT: Every...every day.
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh. What about other activities on campus? Were there prayer groups or Bible study groups that [as Crossett begins to speak] you were involved in?
CROSSETT: Just initiated...initiated by the students themselves. There wasn't anything initiated by the college.
ERICKSEN: [Under Crossett's voice, unclear] you started a prayer....
CROSSETT: We had a prayer group in our dorm.
ERICKSEN: Was that prayer group in any way related to missions or to China.
CROSSETT: No, we just would bring up our own requests and write them down and then we'd check them off when they were answered.
ERICKSEN: And is that something you were in from the...from the beginning of your time through your four years.
CROSSETT: I started it. I was only there three years. [train noise] I finished in.... They gave me credit for Biola. Not quite full credit, but I took extra courses so I was only there three years at Wheaton College.
ERICKSEN: So you got one year out of the way?
ERICKSEN: As you look back on your time at Wheaton, in terms of your spiritual pilgrimage, were there any major changes that took place in your life while you were here?
CROSSETT: Not anything striking. I kept growing in the Lord. Learning things, but nothing striking.
ERICKSEN: Was there any sort of a group on campus that was sort of a support group for your interest in missions and in China?
CROSSETT: Yes, there was a...a student volunteer group and I was active in that. I mean...I don't think I was...I may have been an officer one year, but I had something to do with starting it, I think. And, yeah, we had good group...good meetings at student volunteers.
ERICKSEN: What sorts of things would hap...what would the meetings consist of?
CROSSETT: Well, we'd have speakers, we'd have discussions on missions and we'd challenge for missions.
ERICKSEN: If you had to guess, what percentage of the campus population would you say was involved?
CROSSETT: Oh, it was rather small. We'd have maybe twenty or thirty at a meeting.
ERICKSEN: Who else was in the group with you? Do you remember anyone?
CROSSETT: I think Russell Mixter [BA '28] was one and Russell Orr [BA '29] and I think Violet Dean, the Salvation Army girl, was in it and I can't remember the different ones.
ERICKSEN: Were you...did you have any contact with China Inland Mission while you were...while you were here at school?
CROSSETT: Yes. I...I started my application to the mission while I was in school.
ERICKSEN: When did you begin that process?
CROSSETT: I think it was my first year here I wrote in. Then continued contact with them all through school, so that when I graduated they immediately asked me to come to Toronto as a candidate. I was accepted and went out that fall.
ERICKSEN: Can you tell me about the...the process of becoming a member of al...of the China Inland Mission?
CROSSETT: You write in to apply and to inquire and they send you a letter and you write back, tell them you are interested and they send you an application, just to fill out. And then they...they sent different statements, forms that you had to answer, questionnaires about your theological stand, what you believe, and...and your life history, and whether you have ever won any one to the Lord or not and I...why you feel called to China. And then you had to get a physical exam. But all that took months and years and all the time we were praying, they were praying and I was praying. And...and I had to...well, then we had to get references for our character and for our Christian life and everything and send those in. They...they examined quite thoroughly before they would accept anyone. They still do. When we...after we left the mission and were in Honolulu for twelve years...thirteen years and we reapplied to the mission, we had to go through that again. And every reference we gave they asked...they asked each reference to give three more references and investigated every one of them. Even though they knew us. We kept in touch all the time [chuckles].
ERICKSEN: Then once you had completed the process of filling out the forms and having all the references come in, passing the medical exams, what happened then?
CROSSETT: Well, after I graduated they wrote and invited me to go to Toronto as a candidate. I don't know why they sent me to Toronto because in Philadelphia they were always...already having a bunch of candidates there. But I was the only one in Toronto and I was up there for five weeks. And they were supposed to look me over [laughs] during those five weeks, but it happened that the man who was in charge of the mission home there, he had a...a son who was very, very ill and eventually he died and they were so busy with him that they ignored me. And I was so tired from working my way through two schools that I slept [laughs]. I slept most of the time I was there. And I needed that. It was a good rest for me. I...and finally he woke up to the fact that he had neglected me, and he got one of the former missionaries to start teaching me Chinese, which I already knew as far as she taught me [chuckles]. But then when I came before...when I finished, the council met and I came before the council. Dr. [Henry W.] Frost was the head of the council at that time. It was...it was the last time he had...met with the council because he resigned...I mean he retired after that. So I was the last one accepted under Dr. Frost. But when they questioned me, they said...I answered and then they said, "Do you have any questions?" And I said, "Yes." I said, "I don't understand the financial policy of the mission." And they got after that man [laughs]. They said, "What, you haven't talked to her about this?" He immediately took me out and taught me [laughs].
ERICKSEN: What sorts of questions did they ask you?
CROSSETT: Oh, about my spiritual life and...and I don't know. It was mostly on that order. Knowledge of the Scriptures and training I'd had and things like that. Of course, they knew it all from the papers, but....
ERICKSEN: Okay, now let's just back up a little to when you were still at college. You'd said that you had had contact with the CIM group while you were in college....
CROSSETT: Not group. I just wrote to the CIM. There was no group.
ERICKSEN: I don't remember...seems to me that I'd heard someone talking about Isaac Page leading a group somewhere in thi...was that in this area?
CROSSETT: Chicago, I think, but that was afterward.
ERICKSEN: Oh, that was later.
ERICKSEN: I see.
CROSSETT: That was after I had gone to China. But Isaac Page came and spoke at the College. He spoke at Biola when I was there, too, and I went to talk to him about joining the mission. And I just had a little talk with him and then when I came to College and he came to speak, I went down to speak to him and he called me by name. And I was so astonished because I'd such little contact, but he remembered me.
ERICKSEN: How...how shortly after your graduation were you on your way up to Toronto?
CROSSETT: Oh, just within a few weeks. Two or three weeks, I think. Or less than that. I just went right away.
ERICKSEN: And then once you were approved by the council...when did you meet with the council? Was it during the summer?
CROSSETT: During that time I was in Toronto, at the last...last week I was there.
ERICKSEN: And then you say that you left for China in the fall?
CROSSETT: Uh-huh. In August, in fact.
ERICKSEN: What...what was involved in getting ready to go?
CROSSETT: Well, they gave me an outfit list so...that I was supposed to have, and buy, and different clothes, and different dishes and pots and pans, and things like that. And some of the things we couldn't get in this country. I had to wait until I got to Shanghai and bought them. And I just packed them in a trunk and took it with me.
ERICKSEN: And so when you...where did you...I presume you sailed.
ERICKSEN: Where did you sail from?
CROSSETT: Sailed from Vancouver.
ERICKSEN: And how did you get to Vancouver?
CROSSETT: By train across Canada. It was a beautiful trip.
ERICKSEN: How many of you were there leaving together?
CROSSETT: I think there were eight of us.
ERICKSEN: Do you remember who any of the others were?
CROSSETT: Yes. There was...see [pauses], there was Florence...what was her name [Bleeker; see China's Millions, October 1929, for photos and statements of the eight women who went together]? It's so hard to remember names when you're old [laughs].
ERICKSEN: [Chuckles] I have a hard time now.
CROSSETT: Let's see...I can't remember...Florence.... I'll probably remember it tomorrow.
ERICKSEN: Well, we don't need to....
CROSSETT: Lena Sellon and Vivian MacDougal, and...oh, I can't remember them all.
ERICKSEN: That's fine.
CROSSETT: Lillian Daniel [pauses]. Let's see. If I had thought about it I could have the names only...but...let's see. I won't...I don't know of any of the others that are living now. I think they are all gone.
ERICKSEN: Did you...did you all meet in Vancouver? Did you travel together?
CROSSETT: There were two or three of us that traveled together and then the rest we met in Vancouver.
ERICKSEN: And what happened when you all got to Vancouver?
CROSSETT: We were there, oh, I suppose about a week, and they had meetings for us to speak at. And that's all I remember there. We didn't go around much to see the sights. We didn't...in fact, we didn't do that at all.
ERICKSEN: But you were there for a little while?
CROSSETT: Yes. Several days, until the ship sailed.
ERICKSEN: Do you remember anything about the trip over?
CROSSETT: Yes. We were...it was a lovely trip and the...the weather was good, but Lena Sellon, just the thought of a ship made her seasick. She spent most of the time in bed. Once we got her up on deck, and two of us, ea...were on...one on each side of her and we marched her up and down the deck and she was just thoroughly enjoying it. Then she looked out and saw the waves and she said, "Oh" [laughs]. She went back to bed. And on th...there were two senior missionaries with us and one morning we woke up and we looked out the porthole, and the senior missionary said, "That's all an illusion." It was the Aleutian Islands [laughs] we were passing. And then when we got to Japan, a number of Japanese missionaries...I mean, missionaries to Japan, came on the ship and invited us to their places to visit, so we went. One place that I went, they were having a tea and one of the missionaries spoke to me and said, "Be thankful you're called to China because the Japanese women are so...they would say one thing and then do another. You can't rely on them at all. The Chinese are more stable." And I always remembered that. The Japanese were very different from the Chinese, which was true.
ERICKSEN: You found that to be true?
CROSSETT: Yes. Although there's some wonderful Japanese, but at that time they were very unreliable.
ERICKSEN: Do you remember anything else about the trip over?
CROSSETT: When we got to Shanghai, one of our missionaries who is in charge of meeting ships came and looked after us and looked after our baggage and saw that we got safely to the mission home. We were welcomed by the missionaries there. Mr. [Dixon Edward] Hoste was...was the head of the mission at the time and he welcomed us and [pauses]...I don't know, we just...we had a time in Shanghai to buy what we needed to buy before we went up to language school.
ERICKSEN: What do you...what do you recall of your first impressions of Shanghai?
CROSSETT: It was like it was when I was a child.
ERICKSEN: It hadn't changed much?
CROSSETT: It was very much the same. I recognized the...the Bund and the...the shop...all the big shops. Yeah. It was very much the same, with the red...the rickshaws. It was mostly...then there were street cars, some buses.
ERICKSEN: Did it feel good to get back?
CROSSETT: Yes. I...I felt right at home. I thought I'd...couldn't understand anything, but I began to understand right away.
ERICKSEN: What...what was the mission headquarters like in Shanghai?
CROSSETT: Well, at that time, they hadn't built their new ones that they had afterward, but it was a...a compound with buildings all around it, and a little sort of a tea house in the middle, with lawns and...and it was a pretty place. It was Chinese sort of buildings with the curved roofs [train noise] and tile roofs and things, very different from the ones they built later on, which were seven...six, seven stories high. But it was pretty. It was a nice little compound, but it was very old and had narrow rickety stairs up to the second floor. Everything was getting worn out.
ERICKSEN: And you were there for...?
CROSSETT: Oh, just two...two or three weeks.
ERICKSEN: And then you...?
CROSSETT: Then we went up to language school.
ERICKSEN: Which was in...?
CROSSETT: Yangzhou, a city up the Jiangxi River. It was the women's language school. The men went further up the river to Anking.
ERICKSEN: Where there separate language schools for any particular reason?
CROSSETT: Yes, because of Chinese customs. The Chinese...the Daoists think evil if girls and fellows got together. And that changed later on, but at that time it was...would have been difficult to make the Chinese understand. I think they had a...in Peking, they had a language school for other missions where men and women were together, but Peking was different from the...a city in the interior of China [clears throat].
ERICKSEN: How did you find language school?
CROSSETT: Well, I enjoyed it. We had...because it was two hundred, you know, they had called for the two hundred and the first group of two hundred. We had thirty or forty girls there, I think. And it was interesting because we had girls from...from different countries, from England, from Australia, from New Zealand, from Germany, from different countries. And we were always...always...we were always talking about language, comparing their language with ours, the way they pronounced things and the way we pronounced. And then we had Chinese teachers. None of the teachers knew any English and we had a conversation class, and the girls in the class...the teacher would talk and talk and talk and none of them could understand, but I could. So then he'd point to me and say, "You tell them what I said," so I'd translate. And...but...you're just supposed to listen to get the rhythm and the tonal...tones and everything. And then we had reading classes where each one...it was one on one. The teacher would sit on one side of the desk and we'd sit on the other and he'd read a sentence and we'd read it after him. And we were supposed to learn that way. They don't teach it that way anymore, but then we had one of the staff of the school to give us lessons on tones and...and sounds and rhythms, and things. We had a writing class where we were supposed to learn how to write Chinese, which I didn't learn very well. And...and we had certain hours when we were to study in our rooms. And then we had recreation times. They had a...a walled compound and we'd go out in the back yard and we...we got...we wanted to play baseball, the American girls. So we didn't have any bat or ball. We got a tennis ball and we got a...they had bars across windows for night, and we'd take one of those bars, and we started playing baseball, and everybody would route...rooting for us and we'd...we were having a great time. And the kids on the street would climb up on the wall and sit all along to watch. And Miss Cole, a very prim and proper English lady, discovered that, oh, she was horrified. She said, "Girls, girls, you cannot do this." She took away our bat and ball. She said, "You must not play like this." And we were all in Chinese clothes, with long skirts down to our ankles. And then we...we had a...a hoop for basketball. And we started playing basketball and we got too rowdy there, so she cut out all of that. So we just went round and round the back yard walking.
ERICKSEN: What was it about the activity that...?
CROSSETT: The noise. At that time there was a great deal of anti-foreign feeling and Yangzhou was an anti-foreign city. And she didn't want them to know there were so many foreigners in that compound. So...and...they...we had for our baths, we had to have hot water...buckets of hot water brought in from the street. And in order for the man who brought in the hot water not to realize how many girls there were there, he'd come in, bring two buckets of water and pour one bucket in one tub and another in another tub and we only got one bucket of water for each person to bathe in. And there were only certain girls could bathe on a certain night. And in the winter when it got so cold, we didn't have any heat, and it got down to eighteen above zero and there was a lot of snow outside. And I remember once I was taking a bath and he'd poured in boiling water in this tin tub, and before I got through with the bath, the water was frozen. It was ice [laughs]. We...we wore thick Chinese wadded clothes to try to keep warm, and we were allowed to have a kerosene stove in our...in our bedrooms, but we could only have a certain amount of kerosene, so it...we didn't have it very warm. The house was built by a missionary who had been a missionary in India and he built it for warm weather. And it was built with a lot...a big wide hall in the middle and rooms on both sides. And a porch across the south side and there was no way to heat the place except by the sunlight on that porch. And we used to go out there and study when it was sunny. When it wasn't sunny we just stayed in our rooms, but it was very cold. And that's the conditions we studied under.
ERICKSEN: What would a typical day at language school be like?
CROSSETT: Oh, we would go to our classes. And have our...we...first we had a class by one of the staff to...and she would teach us construction of sentences and a little bit of whatever grammar there was, and then we'd go to this conversation class, and then we would go to the class where the teacher would teach us to read, and we had our writing class, and then we went to our rooms to study. And then at...I think it was four o'clock in the afternoon, we were told to go out and have recreation [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Not too wild.
CROSSETT: No [laughs]. Yeah. We stopped for lunch, of course. We had lunch.
ERICKSEN: Now, when...when you joined the mission, was it...was there still quite a heavy British influence?
CROSSETT: Very British, yes, and it was a dictatorial setup. They had...they had leaders' council, but Mr. Hoste, whatever he said went and there was no questioning. He would...when he designated us, he would ask us if we were willing to go to a place, but I don't think anybody said he wasn't [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Do you remember where he asked you, if you would be willing to go?
CROSSETT: Yeah, he was very...he had a very high squeaky voice and he would say...he said, "Miss Elliott, would you like to go to Anhui, to Shucheng to work?" All the other girls were saying, "Oh, I want to go up to Gansu, as far away as possible, to Hunan among the tribes." And Anhui was just the next province over. And I said, "Yes, Mr. Hoste." And he said, "Thank God" [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Because that's where you were going.
ERICKSEN: Can you think of any other incidence where Mr. Hoste's word being law...where you saw that at work?
CROSSETT: The only other thing I can think of is that when we were in Shanghai one time, Mr. Hoste asked Vincent to pray with him. And so Vincent went into his room and Mr. Hoste, he never had...he always asked somebody to come and pray with him, but he never allowed them to pray out loud. He did all the praying. He would walk around the room with his eyes open. And he did all the praying and he would pray for several hours and the other person was supposed to sit there and pray with him [laughs]. But you don't...didn't say no to Mr. Hoste when he asked you pray with him. He didn't ask me, he asked Vincent.
ERICKSEN: How long were you at language school?
CROSSETT: Well, I was there an extended time. It was supposed to be only six months, and during that time we were supposed to finish the first language exam. And I was the first one to finish it, but the other girls went off to their designations. But they wouldn't send anyone without a senior missionary and there was no senior missionary to go to my station. So I had to wait until there was one available. And in the mean time I got dysentery and I nearly died. I was very, very ill and that delayed me, too. And then finally they...I was really in language school for a whole year. Some of the new workers were coming out before I left. And then, when I went down to Shanghai, they had a senior missionary to take me up to Shucheng.
ERICKSEN: Do you know how you got the dysentery?
CROSSETT: No, I don't, because I was brought up in China and I was so careful of anything I ate and everything I handled and the other girls would go out on the street and they'd buy dirty things and they'd eat them, candy and stuff. I said, "I wouldn't touch that stuff." But they would eat and enjoy it. They never got sick and I got sick [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Now since you were at language school for an extra...for what amounts to an extra term, did you just keep up your language study and complete your second test while you were there?
CROSSETT: No, I kept studying and I...soon after I left I took my second test. But I was sick part of the time so I couldn't study.
END OF TAPE