This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Paul Contento (CN 472, 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 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 transcribers have not attempted to phonetically replicate English dialects but have instead entered the standard English word the speaker was expressing.
Chinese place names 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 would be understood were spelled as they were pronounced with some attempt made to identify the accepted transliteration form to which it corresponds.
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 transcript was made by Jonanthan Seefeldt and Paul Ericksen, and was completed in March
Collection 472, T1. Interview of Paul Contento by Robert Shuster, December 9, 1992.
SHUSTER: This is an interview with Reverend Paul Contento by Robert Shuster for the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. And this interview took place on December 9, 1992, at 1:00 pm in Lancaster, PA. [pauses] Reverend Contento, why don't we start with your family background. Can you say a few words about your parents, their names and their backgrounds?
CONTENTO: Oh yeah, alright, fine. My parents were immigrants from Italy in...way back at the...about the...turn of the century. And....
SHUSTER: Southern Italy or northern Italy?
CONTENTO: That was...in fact I visited my birthplace about two years ago with my daughter. And it's a little town just south of Rome called Volturara. Very exciting to go there because in that area all the towns are on hilltops. And I suppose there are two reasons. One reason is probably because of the security that way. And another is because they...the hilltops weren't suitable for farming, so they...so they...they didn't use that land, you see. And...
SHUSTER: Like the seven hills of Rome.
CONTENTO: ...And I was rather...I was rather surprised because it was a town...I don't suppose it had more than about two or three thousand people. It's a small town. The center of the town was this cathedral at the top, the very pinnacle. And the streets were quite narrow, but well paved and very smooth and in front of almost every door was a...one of those little Fiats, these Italian small cars. So it looked very neat and the houses had been painted apparently not too long before, so it was interesting to go back there and look.
SHUSTER: Did you still have relatives living there?
SHUSTER: Did you still have relatives living there?
CONTENTO: No, we...well, I'll tell you. The problem was that I couldn't speak the language, you see. We lost the lang...I lost the language completely. And so it was very hard to make any inquiries and I sort of gave up. My daughter was with me, 'cause my wife has passed away about seven years. And she kept urging to try to find an official [pauses] residence somewhere and try to discover.... I said, "Forget it." So anyway, yeah.
SHUSTER: You were born there in 1906?
CONTENTO: Yeah. I was born and then I was immediately brought to America. I was only one year old when I came over. So, I mean, I lived all my life here in America.
SHUSTER: So you're family came over in 1907 then?
CONTENTO: My...no, it was more complicated. My father went to South America first as a single man. Then he went back to Italy and married a wife. And then they had a child. That was my...my older brother. And then my father decided to come to America. So he came first. And then I followed on later. So we got established in Albany, New York. That was our hometown.
SHUSTER: What was your father's name?
CONTENTO: My father's name was Edward, Edward Contento. Very interesting name CON-TEN-TO [enunciates syllables], huh? Contento. [laughs]
SHUSTER: And your mother's name?
CONTENTO: Well, I'm not...actually it's very strange. I....her name sounded like Demiserus of...not...an Italian name at all. But I rather think her that background was probably from Greek...from Greece. You remember there was a lot of immigrants went to Italy in fifteenth, sixteenth century from Greece. I think that she...she...that's...her name was Demiserus.
SHUSTER: And her first name?
CONTENTO: Carmella, yeah.
SHUSTER: How would you describe your father? What kind of...
CONTENTO: Well, he was a...he was a...a progressive really in his own right. But he...he became an atheist. And joined the IWW [International Workers of the World] movement in America, which is not "I won't work." Not IW....
SHUSTER: International Workers of the World.
CONTENTO: Inter...International Workers of the World. So...and so...so he's very anti-religious. And my mother was a very strong Catholic. So how could I become a Christian? How could I become a missionary? That's quite a story.
SHUSTER: And I want to get into that. But let me just ask a little bit more about your father. What was his trade?
CONTENTO: Oh, he was a. shoe salesman.
SHUSTER: And what was his personality like? How would you describe him?
SHUSTER: What was his personality like? How...?
CONTENTO: Oh, I would I describe him as an autocrat, self-opinionated and dogmatic. Quite a combination isn't it? [laughs]
SHUSTER: Well, lot of people like that, I guess.
CONTENTO: Yeah, well, he was very anti-religious. And so we...we didn't have any...we weren't allowed to go to church or to.... But he didn't interfere with my mother's faith. But for the children, no, we were not allowed to go to Sunday school or go to anything.
SHUSTER: Were you close to him?
CONTENTO: Not really, no. He...he was not that type of a personality. I felt sorry for him, because he was carrying the burden of having five children. And it was...those times there was hard economic times in...at that time. Well, when I remembered, of course, it was much later, but...I..... But, you know, that I remember the beginning of World War I. I have a memory of that.
SHUSTER: What is that memory?
CONTENTO: Well, the memory was the preparation, you know, the...the army getting ready to go abroad and the parades and hoopala, you know. And...and....
SHUSTER: What did you think of it as a little child?
CONTENTO: Well, you see that time, we...we used to...were caught up with all the interest about it and it didn't really...we used to see terrible pictures in newspaper, you know, of casualties and all cartoons of the [laughs]...of the war like that and.... But the...it was an awful war, because the guys, you know, were right there in the trenches for four years. And...but it didn't strike me as being...any relation to me...
CONTENTO: ...and in no way related to me, you see, and so on and so forth. Yeah.
SHUSTER: How would you describe your mother? What was she like?
CONTENTO: Well, she was a very intelligent woman. She was well educated. And that's a lot for those...for those years. She was well educated. Read and write, and was very knowledgeable about affairs. I don't suppose about world affairs very much, but still. So she was very anxious that her children be well educated and well brought up. She was disciplinarian but very kind, very kind person, very kind.
SHUSTER: Can you think of an example of kindness?
CONTENTO: Well, when my father was harsh to us, you know, she would always run to rescue...run to rescue us, you know. And he didn't like it, but he didn't...he didn't strike her. But he...he used to...he used to beat us up a bit. And he didn't know that the more he did that the...the...the...the more we were going to be bad boys, you know, [laughs] and not...not...not that obedient [laughs]. He didn't realize at the time he was...he was driving us to be contrary. But those days, you know, they didn't talk much about child bringing up, you know, and that sort of thing. So, yeah, I felt sorry for him because he was a frustrated man. With a...with a big family and not a very much of an income. They had to be very frugal.
CONTENTO: And even my...when my older brother was sixteen or seventeen and could have found work, jobs were not easily found in those days. It was not easy. So....
SHUSTER: Did your mother ever talk to you about God or Christ or...?
CONTENTO: Not really, no, no. Catholic...she was a strong Catholic. And they didn't...she...she just followed the church traditions, you know, and...and that was it. She...we we never...because especially when my father was so anti-Christian or anti-religious, let's say, anti-religious, so.... Oh yeah, Christmas and this kind of thing, you know, and had the usual Christmas sort of thing. But that was all. And Easter time, of course. It was very funny though that my father is anti-religious, but he allowed each one of the children to be baptized when they were born. 'Cause the Roman Catholic faith is you baptize them in a week you know, eighth day or something [laughs] like that. And there's a...a very deep superstition connected with that, that if they're not baptized and should die, then they would go to hell. So he allo...[laughs]...he allowed....
SHUSTER: That was to please your mother or he was just superstitious?
CONTENTO: Yeah, right, or...I think so. I think something like that, yeah. Yeah that's the...that's the way superstitions run, you know.
SHUSTER: Did...as you were growing up as a boy, what were your ambitions?
CONTENTO: Oh, ambitions. Well, we had the...the ambition to learn a trade, or to find some kind of work that would sustain you. But it was after I was converted that...that I had a sense of direction.
SHUSTER: What's...what's the earliest thing that you can remember? What's the first childhood memory?
CONTENTO: Oh, first childhood memories. Well, I suppose just the usual. I....I can't go back earlier than about when I was about six years old. I have a few faint memories about that time, household images and that kind of thing, but not...nothing serious, you know. [laughs] Yeah.
SHUSTER: What is it that you remember from six years old?
CONTENTO: Just remember going to the market with my mother, that kind of thing, you know. [laughs] Simple things like that.
SHUSTER: What was important to you as a boy? What were the things that were [unclear]...?
CONTENTO: Oh, I was a...I was a...tried to be a normal...I tried to...when I was about twelve, thirteen, you know, tried to...fourteen, tried to join in ball games with the kids...you know, with kids my age. And I went to grammar school. And then...then after my father died, I started going to high school.
SHUSTER: Was school important to you?
CONTENTO: Yes and no. It...it really depended on the teachers, amazingly so. I...I...today when I think of the education in America and how...how badly it is being operated, I can realize that...the...the teacher in a school can make a great deal of difference. Some...some subjects under one teacher, you really took an interest. And some subjects in another...some subjects under another teacher.... Like for instance, the...take English and English grammar, the teacher was so dull and uninteresting, that it...it just didn't...we just didn't enjoy it at all, so we didn't...didn't do too well in that. But in geography or some of the other subjects, if the teacher was interesting, why, it...it...it was...it was worth something. But we were not taught the principles of learning. Or the teachers did not know too well the principles of learning. So...usually by rote, you know, and that kind of thing, so.... But we stumbled along and [laughs] got on pretty well.
SHUSTER: How did you come to know Christ?
CONTENTO: That's a very interesting story: that how could I know Christ if my father was so anti-Christian? And see the...the old saying, "Man proposes, but God disposes," you know. So that at the end of the war, World War I, there was a great epidemic called the Spanish Influenza.
CONTENTO: 1918, yeah. And thou...millions died. And in our neighborhood, all over our neighborhood you could see...in those days when someone died they used to put a wreath outside the door, you know, with...with some little...
SHUSTER: Black ribbons.
CONTENTO: ...Ribbons or something like that, you know. And so in my family, my...our older sister and my father died the same week. It was a...a very strange disease, because first day you had a headache, not feeling well. Next day the fever rose to about a hundred and six or seven, and the third day you're dead. So he died. And then the question of burial arose. So I remember going with my older brother to see the Catholic priest in the church down there. And when we mentioned the name so-and-so, he says, "No, no, no, no, no." He says, "I...I...we're...we...we're not interested in that because we know your father is an atheist and anti-Christian." So what to do? And luckily, there was a very fine Baptist deacon in the neighborhood. And so he came...we...very close to us in family. So he came to my mother and said, "Now if you can't find anybody else to do the funeral, I'll find somebody for you." And my mother said, "Fine." He said, "He's...he's a Protestant minister." And my mother said, "Well, never mind. Okay," you know [laughs]. So this Baptist minister came and he did the service. Very kindly gentleman, quite tall and...and in his...in his sixties, very gentle. And he preached the...he...he...he spoke about the Cross and the love of God and...and he preached the gospel really, in a very kind way. And that was the first time I...I'd heard anything like that.
SHUSTER: Do you recall his name?
CONTENTO: Yes, Osterhouse, Osterhouse. He's a Dutchman, Osterhouse. Very fine gentleman. And then after the funeral, a few...few days later, he came along and asked my mother would she let the children go to his Sunday school. And my mother said, "But we're Catholics." He said, "We invite everybody." So my mother thought, "Well, he helped us, you know, and he was kind to us." So she let us go. And so I went to Sunday school. And I was about nearly fourteen then, thirteen-and-a-half. And so I went to Sunday school and a couple of my brothers went with me and a sister. And we started going and my mother didn't say anything. Went every Sunday. My two younger brothers, they went and didn't go, you know, and then irregular. My sister was very constant. Then after about a year my mother said, "Now it's time to stop going to Sunday school. We're Catholics and we're not going to...all our relatives are Catholics and we're not going to let them think that we are Protestants." She said, "So you're going to have to stop." I said, "No, I...I'm sorry. I can't stop now." And she said, "Why not?" I said, "Because I'm born again." My mother looked at me as if I was crazy. She'd never heard the term. "Born again? What do you mean born again?" Well, I said, "If you believe in Jesus Christ," I said, "there's a change comes into your heart and they call it 'born again.'" "Well," she said, "I don't care if you're born or unborn. You've got to stop going." [laughs] So it...we struggled along for awhile. And then I kept on going and she kept saying "Don't go." And finally it came to a point where she said, "Now, I think you've got to stop going. If you don't, I'll...I'll disown you. I just won't let you live in this house." So I went and told the pastor. I said, "My moth...my mother said if I keep on going I have to [laughs]...I have to move out." And he said, "Well, I have a...I have a plan for you." He said, "I have a big manse [clergyman's house] as you know. And I have three bedrooms and upstairs and downstairs. And no children. We'd be glad to accept you into our family."
SHUSTER: And that was Reverend Osterhouse?
CONTENTO: Ousterhouse, yeah. So next time my mother challenged me, you know, and I said, "Mother," I said, "don't worry about it. I have a...." I said, "The pastor says if you don't want me to stay at home here, he'll have me in his house as a...as if I was his son." Wow, that was a shock! And you know, she never replied. She never said a word, never said a word. So it went on and I kept on going. And finally one day she said "Well, if...if that's the way you want it, okay. It's okay with me." [pauses] So I kept going. But things were happening in my own life. I was changing. I was changing a lot. I changed very rapidly. We were hooligans like all the other kids of that time, you know, making trouble on the streets and this and that.
SHUSTER: How do you mean hooligans?
CONTENTO: Well, you know, we'd throw stones at windows, you know, and play...play sandlot balls [baseball], bat balls through the windows and [laughs] that...that kind of thing, you know. And...and more than that, I remember this because we were living at the edge of the town at Albany. And there were a lot of farmland near...nearby, and we'd...we'd go there and...and steal potatoes and, you know, that kind of thing, you see, so.... But after I got converted, that st...that all stopped. And not only that, but I was the only one. But see, when you have number of boys, each one lets the other one do it, you know. And...but I was the one who offered to do all the errands and run errands for my mother and help her this way and that way and the other way. She became impressed that something was happening to me, you see. So after about another...about...about two years we went on that way. And then another thing happened (before I mentioned this), is that I got interested in YMCA [Young Men's Christian Association]. And YMCA welcomed me and they had a...a very fine secretary at the time, a real strong Christian man. And so I joined the older boys club in the YMCA.
SHUSTER: How did you become involved in YMCA?
CONTENTO: Well, because Osterhouse originally was a YMCA director before he became a minister. So it was...he made the bridge for me to...to it. And so then I used go to the YMCA a lot. And I got very involved in.... In fact, there was an older boys club, and by that time I was...I must have been about seventeen, going on eighteen. The older boys club collapsed, but out of that grew what we called a 'Deputation Team.' There was a group of us who decided we wanted to go witnessing for Christ in the churches. And about five or six boys from that older boys club. And, well, what did we call ourselves? Well, we called ourselves the 'Deputation Team.' [laughs] And we started going and the secretary...the secretary had found openings for us in many churches. And we used to go and speak at the youth groups, you know, in the churches. The Christian Endeavor, the Methodists, you know, and the YPM of the Baptists and...(Young People's Meeting). So I got very involved in that. And I...my life was changing rapidly. I became very, very, very active. I....I was like a house on fire! I didn't know very much, but I [laughs]...I...I...I witnessed a lot, you know. And then I...there's another group there in Albany, it was called the Albany Bible School. It was all for...it was for women, but they had classes. And I...so I started going to those classes and learning more about the Bible and so on and so forth. And I was...I was becoming very...very much engaged that way. So much so that one day the pastor said to me, he said, "You know, Paul," (my name is Paul), he says, "I have a feeling that God is calling you to Christian service." And I was still in high school, but coming to the end of my high school days. And he said, "I...I...I have a feeling God is going to want you to train for Christian...Christian service." And I said, "Well," I said, "I'm willing." [laughs] You know, "I'm willing." So he [?] got a committee in the church together and they decided to give me a scholarship, and...to go to the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. You know the Moody...?
SHUSTER: Why Moody? Why did...why not Philadelphia College of the Bible or...?
CONTENTO: Well, I...I don't think those existed at that time. This goes back to 19....
CONTENTO: Yeah. I don't think those other schools existed. Anyway, Moody was the...the big star in the sky at that time. A lot of these schools started since that time, you know. Moody was the number one, the first Bible school in America, founded by D.L. Moody himself before he died. So...well, anyway, that's what they did and so I found myself going to Moody. And it was there that they had a very strong missionary program, and constantly had missionary speakers in their chapel service. You know, at that time there were already a thousand students at Moody in the day school, daytime. So since they gave me the scholarship, and so I enrolled. And...and at first, of course, I avoided the...the missions idea. I had no...no desire to be a missionary, but....
SHUSTER: Why was that?
SHUSTER: Why was that?
CONTENTO: Well, I...I just thought of the missionaries, you know, as sort of.... I knew David Livingstone had been an African explorer, missionary, and so on and so forth.... I thought I'd...I'd be a big dynamic preacher in America, you know. [laughs] This kind of idea. But then slowly it...it...it dawned on my mind that the gospel was for all creatures, everybody. It dawned on me that I had a responsibility towards the Lord's Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). You see, you can't be in the Moody Bible Institute very long before you'll have to face that. And then they had prayer bands. They had Asia prayer bands, Africa prayer bands, South America prayer bands, and so on and so forth. And so I...I joined the Asia pray...prayer band. And also there was at one conference, some speakers from China. Some missionaries from China spoke in the Institute and I began to see that they...it made sense, that here was five hundred million people of which two-thirds had never...never even heard the gospel, not less rejected it, had never heard the gospel. So it gradually dawned on my mind that this was a challenge. And....
SHUSTER: Why did you...why did you choose the Asia prayer band instead of Africa?
CONTENTO: I don't know. That's not...that's inexplicable. But I...I was attracted to it, and it was a large prayer band. It was about, what?, fifty, sixty students in that. So anyway before long, I mean, I then heard...no, what really determined my...my idea was there's a speaker from China Inland Mission. And he...he was a very incisive and very dynamic character. So....
SHUSTER: Who was it?
CONTENTO: His name was Page. Doctor Isaac Page. And he had some Irish wit too. He was...I think he was Irish. So he...he...he...he...he challenged us, you see, "There's a...there's...there's a need of the call. There's a need of the call. But," he says, "there's a call of the need." And there's two sides, you see. Oh, the call of the need. Well, that struck a chord. The need is a call, you see. If you're needed, there's a big need, and you would have to respond to that need. And China had the biggest need, the biggest population in the world at that time. And Mongolia and Tibet and all those hinterlands, you know, unevangelized. So it...the formation.... And I talked with him about going to China. And he was not one that...who immediately sort of buttonholed me and said, "Yeah, fine, fine. Sign up, sign up." No, he didn't. He...he told me all the negative things about being in China, and the lack of sanitation and customs and this and that and the other thing. But that didn't deter me because I saw a bigger vision: the...all this mass of people who had not heard the gospel. And...and Paul said, "Woe is me if I preach [laughs] not the gospel," [1 Corinthians 9:16] you know [laughs]. And....
SHUSTER: Your namesake.
SHUSTER: Your name sake.
CONTENTO: Yeah, my name sake, that's right. So anyway, I finally...I made up my mind after, oh, it took...it took a period of time, you know. But...and being in the China prayer band, found out more about China and so on and so forth. And so then I talked to this Reverend Isaac Page about joining the mission. And he...and I said I...I was willing to apply. So....
SHUSTER: If we could backtrack a little bit. I just wanted to ask a bit more about your time at Moody. You mentioned the missionary program that they had. How did that program differ from their ordinary set of courses?
CONTENTO: Well, the head of the program at the time was Dr. Glover, and...R.A. Glover, I think it is. There's a street near here named by that name.
SHUSTER: He was home director of CIM, wasn't he?
CONTENTO: He was. Yes, he was. He originally was a...was a CM&A [Christian Missionary and Alliance] man and then he came over into our mission and became the home director. But I...I...I studied under him before he became home director of the mission. And I took his courses. So, he had a...he had an excellent course: "The Progress of Worldwide Missions." It was a textbook actually that he had written himself and so it was very convincing.
SHUSTER: That was like a historical course?
CONTENTO: Yeah, tracing the history of missions worldwide. He had traveled. Apparently he had traveled all the mission fields of the world too. So when he lectured it was broad background. He had been to India and South America and China in particular.
SHUSTER: What kind of man was Dr. Glover?
CONTENTO: He was a medical doctor originally. And a good lecturer. I would say a little bit dry. [laughs] Dry...dry professor. And I suppose he had memorized his textbook by that time, you know. [laughs] So that, yes, he was...he was fine. I remember after I became a candidate and was in the mission home, as a candidate, I remember his wife coming in one day and looking for her husband and he wasn't around. She says, "You know, I can't live with that man, and I can't live without that man." So...so I remember that. But he...he was very placid and deliberate, you know, and so on and so forth, yeah. He...I was quite scholarly, yeah, quite scholarly, so.... But what happened was that I had to break this news to my mother.
SHUSTER: Well, I...I just want to talk here a little bit more about...about Moody, life at Moody.
CONTENTO: Oh, life at Moody. Well....
SHUSTER: Tell me, were there other professors there who influenced you who stand out in your mind?
CONTENTO: Yes, there was a...a...a professor by the name of [phone rings] Dr. John Page.
[tape stopped and restarted]
SHUSTER: You were talking about some of the professors who influenced you at Moody.
CONTENTO: Yes, [rustles clothing against microphone] there was one teacher doctor and his name was Page also. And...John Page...and he, yes, he had quite an influence. He taught doctrine, but it was...he applied it in a very practical way. It wasn't dry lecturing, you know, like it can be.
SHUSTER: Can you think of an example of how he did that?
CONTENTO: Yes, one [recording largely obscured by electronic interference for about ten to twelve seconds] year he lectured on various doctrines...personal stories...and this kind of thing that made it quite living. But....
SHUSTER: Do you recall any of those stories that...?
CONTENTO: I...I...I don't remember now. It's about what? About fifty, sixty years ago. But I...he...he did have...and he was a very godly man. That was ano...that was the most important impression that he...that he made on us: that he believed deeply what he was teaching. You know, you can lecture, you know, very intellectually and...and not feel that it's a...it's a personal experience as well. Yeah, I...I think they had a number of very...very good professors. They were quite godly. At that time, I wouldn't...I didn't have the background to judge the...the estimate of their scholarship and this kind of thing, you know.
SHUSTER: Who was head of the institution?
CONTENTO: Oh, that ven...venerable doctor...what was the name? Doctor...the old gentleman that was a...had been Episcopalian.
CONTENTO: No, after Torrey.
SHUSTER: I...I...I don't remember either.
CONTENTO: Uh-huh. I'll think of it in...in...in a moment. But he had a beard...I mean, a goatee beard and was very dignified and he's an Episcopalian. Dr. James M. Gray. Dr. James M. Gray.
CONTENTO: That's right. He was the...he was the president at that time. And a very dignified man, you know. And so when he took the chapel sometimes, when he spoke in chapel.... His one passion was to develop expositors, biblical expositors. That's what he.... I don't think he succeeded very well because there wasn't the time in...in the schedule to permit. That...that would take quite a bit of time to train. But that was his one thing. He wrote a commentary called, Christians Workers' Commentary. And it was an expository commentary, he said, one volume. And, of course, he always urged us to buy it, which I did, faithfully bought it. But I didn't learn expository preaching, not for many, many years later when I really tumbled into what it was all about, what "expository" really meant. So that's a...this is a diversion, but that's the weakness of most Bible schools. They teach you a lot about the Bible. You get a head full of the Bible. But you come out and you don't know how to communicate it. And that's preaching. Preaching is communication. And so I stumbled around fifteen, twenty years, you know, before I stumbled on to, "Oh, well, this is how you present the gospel, how you preach, how...learn how to have exposition of the word of God, you know, make exposition of the word of God." So...but Bible schools even today, the theological seminaries are turning out a lot of green bananas, I say. [laughs] A head full of...of Christian knowledge, but not knowing the secret of how to how to...
CONTENTO: ...Yeah, how to preach it, how to communicate the gospel. And I think that's what makes a successful pastor or a failure. He's a good communicator, people flock to hear him. Even if his material isn't that, you know, that...so, but if he's a good communicator. Well, they didn't teach that. They never taught what we call speech, public speaking. Oh, we had one semester of public speaking. We didn't learn much about anything.
SHUSTER: Now, Moody of course also has...requires its students to be involved in evangelism or street-corner evangelism, or [unclear]....
CONTENTO: Oh, that...that. I...I...I was odd man out on that. I...the...the school's assignment weren't enough for me. I organized my own preaching band.
SHUSTER: What kind of assignments did you get?
CONTENTO: Well, they tried to vary them from semester to semester. Sometimes teaching a Sunday school class, sometimes to help a church with a youth group. And we had so many students it wasn't easy for them to get a variety of assignments, but they did very well. We used to go to the [pauses] city mission, city mission and talk to the down-and-outers who came to listen 'cause they got a donut and cup of coffee. Had to listen, you know, to get that donut and a cup of coffee. Oh, that was that famous Pacific Garden Mission, that's right. Even to today it's still functioning.
SHUSTER: Still thriving.
CONTENTO: Yeah, thriving. So, I went there a few times. And I remember on the platform there they...they had a quite a big sign, "Blessed is he that maketh short speeches. He shall be invited again." [both laugh] And that was so [unclear].
SHUSTER: There's a little bit of communication you learned there then.
CONTENTO: Yes, but you see it...it was buckshot, you know. It was...it was shooting out and hoping to hit something, but not...not even to pick out concepts and organize them so they'd be simple to enter the other guy's mind, you know. And I'm very sorry for this because I think it's a...it's a great failure of these seminaries in producing preachers.
SHUSTER: You mentioned you organized your own preaching band. How did that come about?
CONTENTO: Oh, that...there were three or four of us who decided that the...their assignments weren't...weren't really enough. So I bought a trumpet, and I started to learn to play the trumpet. And I practiced so hard in the school that I was reprimanded for making too much noise. [laughs] Then they assigned me to play in the auditorium. I never did play it really well, but I could make a lot of noise. [Shuster laughs] And we used to go all over Chicago. Now, Chicago had a very interesting situation at that time. They had a place not far from Moody called the Washington Square. And it was kind of a garden and had seats in there and a lot of people used to sit in there, especially in the afternoon, warm, good days, you know, warm days and a lot of hobos or bums and so on of them. And went there a couple of times and saw that some of these atheists were on soap boxes, you know, preaching to a crowd and some...some...even Communists, you know. So. we got the idea and I got it from another student who himself had already done that. We had a...made our own soapbox. So then we gathered about five or six of us and we started to learn the art of preaching in public, which is still another very interesting method of communication, but you really have to learn how to use your voice 'cause we didn't have any public address at that time. It's just your voice or mega...megaphone, but it was your own voice. So we organized. There was one fellow that I...one of our students who was brilliant at that. And he...he'd take a step...step ladder with him wherever he went. And he'd find a couple of students go with him and he'd just...on the sidewalk. (He had police permission at that time to preach anywhere.) And he would...he would get on the step ladder, you know, and...and start.
SHUSTER: What was his name?
CONTENTO: And what we would do is we four or five us students would...would follow him. And first we would stand far away. And then the crowd would begin to gather and we'd come closer. We're bringing the crowd in, you know. We...we came closer and they'd come closer, we'd come closer and get right close up to him. Then we developed the...the...the...the system of challenging him, you know.
SHUSTER: Taunting him, you mean?
CONTENTO: Challenging. We...we had arranged it before hand. "How do you know there's a God? You keep talking about a God. Have you ever seen God? Where is God anyway?" And that gave him a chance to explain, you see. And that...the crowd became more and more interested. "Here's a...here's an argument," you know. Everybody likes an argument. [laughs] So we learned that technique and....
SHUSTER: What was his name?
SHUSTER: What was his name?
CONTENTO: Oh, I don't remember that fellow's name. He was much older than we were and had been quite a...had some experience as an evangelist. But we went down to...down to down...downtown Chicago and.... Yeah, as a matter of fact the mission...Moody at that time had ten buses, ten buses. And each bus could take eighteen. They had the seats put in longways, you know. And they went all over Chicago. And some would go to ghettos and some would go to.... I remember one time I joined the group going to the...the Jewish quarter. And, you know, they would throw rotten eggs at you and...and ripe tomatoes [laughs] and that kind of thing. But we had a professor there who taught Hebrew and Jewish customs and so on. And he'd go along sometimes. And he'd speak in...in Jew...in Hebrew, I suppose, or Yiddish, whichever it was. And so we...we learned a little bit about that, techniques that way.
SHUSTER: What...what about the social life at the Institute? What kind of...?
CONTENTO: Oh, social life was very strict, very strict. They had there were about five hundred boys, and about equal number of girls in the school at that time, about a thousand. And they had three women supervisors. What'd they call them now? I forget what they call them. Supervisors. And only one for men. [Shuster laughs] Only one...one for men students. But if you wanted to date a girl, the law was that you...you...you asked her, she had to get permission from a lady supervisor to accept your invitation. I did a few times, you know. So I tell you, I...I...I look back and I thought that was very, very wise. Because at Moody at that time you had a lot of...a lot of chaps who were raw farm boys, you know, and so on and so forth. If you'd had a smattering of education: fully high school or not, never mind, as long as you were really on fire for Christ, you know. And some who didn't know very much about etiquette and that kind of thing. So I...I think...I think they were very wise.
SHUSTER: Why do you think that was wise?
CONTENTO: Well, because it was easy for some of those fellows to go too far, you know. I remember one student who was expelled because unknown to anybody he had made...he had got involved with a girl, one of the students, and then she was carrying a baby. And so they had to dismiss him. It...it...it was...it was a good idea, very good idea. We thought at the time it was rather stringent, but, you know, those were different times. At that...tho...those were acceptable at that time. We didn't...that wasn't the hippie generation, you know, where anything goes. So, it was rather, yeah, rather [unclear]....
SHUSTER: One of the prominent preachers in Chicago at that time was Paul Rader.
CONTENTO: I used to go and hear him all the time.
SHUSTER: What...what kind of preacher was he? How would you describe him?
CONTENTO: He was a...purely an evangelist. A pure evangelist. He had a...a big tabernacle up on north side. We used go there by...under...by the rail...railway...by the underground, what's called the....
CONTENTO: We call it now subway. And...oh no, they...they had elevated. Their...their's was elevated, that's right. It was not underground. Yeah, I used to go up there and hear him a lot, quite a lot.
SHUSTER: What kind of preacher was he? What was his style?
CONTENTO: Very dynamic, very dynamic. He could...he could preach the gospel.... The first half of the gospel...of the sermon was new. The second half was always the same. You know what I mean?
SHUSTER: No, how do you mean new?
CONTENTO: Well, he would start on whatever it was, you know. I remember one sermon, which...this may seem very funny. "It took twenty-eight muscles to make a frown and thirteen to muscles make a smile." And he'd go on like that, you know, and so on and so on. And then eventually he'd come back, "Why do you make a frown? Because you're not happy and...." you know. And so he says, "What's it? Sin in your heart," you know. [laughs] And that rate...I mean, that kind of thing. But he was always interesting. But he had a...he had an assistant who was named [R. Edward] Neighbor, evangelist Neighbor. And he was a Bible-teacher evangelist. And so after Paul Rader, usually Neighbor came on or sometimes it was only Neighbor himself preaching. And that was the afternoon at about, I think two o'clock or three o'clock in the afternoon, so it wouldn't...it didn't conflict with any other church. But, of course, I used to go to Moody Church too. And while I was there, it was in that new Moody Church was built. Just while I was there. 19...I was '26, '27...I was '26, '27, '28.
SHUSTER: Was...was Rader in any sense a model for the students at Moody as preacher or as a...?
CONTENTO: [pauses] Well, not rea...yes, in a way, but he was not preaching what you would call organized sermons. He was just an evangelist that had a subject and used illustrations to build that up, you see, and so on. Moody did the same thing, D.L. Moody. So his...his preaching was about fifty percent stories and illustrations and he'd take a text anywhere in the...in the Bible and preach it. In a...in a...in an oratorical way, yes, he...he was a...was a....but nobody could really copy a person like that. He's just one....
SHUSTER: One of a kind.
CONTENTO: Yeah, one of kind. Yeah, that's right, that's right.
SHUSTER: What did he look like? What did he look like? What was his appearance?
CONTENTO: Oh, he looked like a big football player. He would today be a big foo...a great big guy, yeah. But he got a bit of mess in the end, you know, because he was in...slightly involved with that lady, that famous lady preacher who...
SHUSTER: Aimee Semple McPherson.
CONTENTO: ...got lost in the desert and then came out.
SHUSTER: Aimee Semple McPherson.
CONTENTO: That's right. Aimee Semple. I went to hear her a few times too. She was very dynamic, very theatrical and very able.
[recorder stopped and restarted]
SHUSTER: ...Aimee Semple McPherson and her preaching style.
CONTENTO: Yeah, I went to hear when she came on her "Vindication Tour," you know, and she....
SHUSTER: That was after her kidnaping?
CONTENTO: Yes, after the kidnaping, coming back and so on and so forth. Se had her "Vindication Tour." And the crowds were so big, and the had police outside to keep order, you know. And quite, quite...very theatrical. I remember one in the midst of a sermon, she said, "Now, if I asked any of you here to...to try to jump through that wall would you do it?" A lot of people raised their hands. They said...she said, "You're crazy. But if Jesus asked you to do it, would you do it? Oh, that's different. Yeah, then the wall would fall, you see. The wall would collapse or something." I mean, that kind of thing, see. Oh, there's no doubt that she was a real actress, yeah. And what she preached was okay, but.... Then I went to her tabernacle a few times as a student, you know, to....
SHUSTER: In Los Ang...in California?
CONTENTO: It's Los Angeles, yeah, Los Angeles. And she was gone by that time but they carried on the sort of same kind of idea. Just go around, look to see what was going on in the world.
SHUSTER: Is there anything else you want to say about Moody and your years at Moody?
CONTENTO: Well, I would say that Moody was really famous for producing missionaries. And the whole life and atmosphere and the program, the school program and so on and so forth, was built around that, that it...it was really preparing missionaries mostly. But though, of course, a lot of them became pastors in United States as well.
SHUSTER: Looking back on your years at Moody and on your years as a missionary, how would you evaluate the strengths and weakness of their missionary program?
CONTENTO: Well, looking back now, I mean, from what I know now, you know, missions has changed so much, changed completely within the last twenty years, let's say, you see. We were not...we...we tried to pretend that we were the humble poor missionary, you know. Especially under our mission, you know, Overseas Missionary Fellowship, China Inland Mission, you know. We got very, very small remittance, you know, but we were doing it for God and we signed the line when you entered the mission that "I'm not looking to the mission for support. The Lord may send it through the mission, or he may send it outside of the mission. So I...I don't hold the mission responsible for my support." Well...but I think that it...it presented a wholesome picture of what it means to be a witness, a personal witness. Moody was very strong on to be a witness you have to have a message. And the message is partly the Word of God and partly your own life, you know. And they presented that very strongly. You can't witness with your mouth and not witness with your life. So in that way it gave us a very good stable background, I think.
SHUSTER: And what was the weakness of the program?
CONTENTO: Well, the weakness of the program, if there was a weakness, I...I would say that everybody graduated [laughs]. You know what I mean? [laughs]
SHUSTER: Well, why don't you expos [laughs]...expand on that a little?
CONTENTO: Well, everybody graduated. I mean, there's a...the...I'm sure that the professors looked at your exam paper. I'm...I'm not too sure he did. I think very often he had some student who helped him to grade your papers and so on and so forth. Of course, if you were...if you were sincere, they felt that earnestness and dedication and change of life and attitudes and so on and so forth was almost enough in a way. You know what I mean? It wasn't scholastic attainment that counted. But if you...if you couldn't pass any...if you were too bad, they...they...they did let you know. You would have to repeat the course. They...they did do that. But I never remember anyone failing to graduate. [laughs, Shuster laughs]
SHUSTER: Did...was it while you were at Moody that you applied to the China Inland Mission?
CONTENTO: Yes, it was. Yes. I...I...I mentioned a little bit before that this Reverend Isaac Page came to Moody and...and lectured there. And he was the one that attracted my attention to the need of China. And I applied through him. And before I graduated I was already accepted.
SHUSTER: Who...did you have to go before a committee or...?
CONTENTO: Well, they had a system whereby if they accepted you then you had to...they appoint a time and you go to the mission home. And you had to live there. I'm not sure if it was one or two months, but you had to live there a period of time under observation. Now it's very scientifically operated. Now we have very different system. That time it was much simpler...much simpler. And you had to just show what your...they sort of watched you and scrutinized you and evaluated your character, your emotions, and your ability to get along with other people and so on and so forth. So that there are people who...who were not accepted. There were. They didn't accept everybody. So...well, it was peculiar in my case, because in China the great happenings were taking place. Chiang Kai-Shek was...had started his...
SHUSTER: March north.
CONTENTO: ...march north. And most of the missionaries evacuated all of China., all but Shanghai, that's 1927...'26. And so they weren't taking any missionaries at that time. So by 1927 I was already in...in the mission home, and...and I said, "If they don't accept me, I'll...I'll withdraw my application and try to go and take a medical course." Great ambition [laughs], yeah, to be a doctor. But, word came from Shanghai at the...at the end of '26 saying, "It's okay now. It's all cleared. Chiang Kai-Shek has reached Beijing. Many of the armies have been suppressed or overcome. Our missionaries are all going back to their stations. We accept new missionaries now." So in October 1928 I left via Canada to go to Shanghai.
[recorder stopped and restarted]
SHUSTER: You had just mentioned that you arrived in Shanghai in October '28, 1928. What were your first impressions?
CONTENTO: Well, my first impressions were...were when we arrived off the ship. We came up ship, you know. And the coolies [unskilled laborers], you know, thousands of coolies acting like animals carrying these huge loads on their backs and so on and so forth. I just took it as a natural thing sort of and.... Yeah, our mission compound (they used to call them compounds) was rather large and the buildings were in old Chinese style. They're like temples, temples. I have pictures of them, actually, still have. And it was an introduction to life in the Far East, you know, kind of thing. And...and....
SHUSTER: How long did you live in the compound?
CONTENTO: We were not...not kept very long. We...in a...several, couple of weeks we were shipped up...up the Yangtze River way up to mid-China, place called Anhui Province. Anqing, Anhui, where we had a language school. And there we...we're about twenty...twenty-three or twenty-four candidates in that language school. They had their own language school for men. They had their own language school for women. In those days, you know, they thought that if a man and women just touched sleeves, sparks would fly or something, I don't know. Anyway, so we...we...we...we started our language study there and we were there about six months, six or seven months.
SHUSTER: Did you take easily to Chinese language?
CONTENTO: Not really. I...when I...when we were in the mission home in Philadelphia there we had to learn what they called the radicals. The Chinese language has about twenty-four radicals. The...all the characters are built on those radicals. And they're all part of a character. Usually the radical gives you the significance of the word, you know.
SHUSTER: The radical is a written or a spoken...?
CONTENTO: Yeah, it's all...it's all a pictorial language. Not really pictorial. It's stylized but....
CONTENTO: The tree is...oh, is something done with cross and then two...two things coming out, something like that. But they're all part of a character. And usually a radical gives you the idea that what that character is going to be like. It's going to be about wood or be about iron or be about something. And so we had that bit of background, but we had to start from scratch. I say this now, maybe the mission would not like to hear it, but I regret that they sent us to that language school because they said, "Oh, it's the center of China and you learn that dialect and then you...you can go anywhere in China. It's...it's the center of China and so it's...you know, you'll fit in anywhere." But it's absolutely untrue. And another thing was that in Beijing there was a very competent first class Chinese language school where most missionaries went. But why did we not go there? Well, the un...un...unspoken argument was that Beijing was a city full of a lot of missionaries, and there were a lot of festivities and a lot of social life, and we might get worldly. We might become worldly, you see. If we went there they could...if they cubby-holed us in our own little language school, we'd be good missionaries. But as a matter of fact, that was a serious mistake, because in that language school they not only taught you the language...
SHUSTER: In the language school in Beijing?
CONTENTO: In Beijing they taught you the Chinese culture and the Chinese thinking patterns and Chinese history. You got it all in there, you see, and it all.... And also they taught you the correct pronunciation. Now, they would say, "Oh, oh, but that's...their pronunciation in Beijing was local. They didn't speak it in any other part of China." But any Beijing speaker went to any other part of China, they always respected them. They spoke the real language. They know....
SHUSTER: 'Cause they were from the capital.
CONTENTO: Right, right. They had the.... Yeah. So, anyway that's water under the bridge. But I regretted that for a long, long time, because I learned a dialect of the northwest when I went to northwest and it was a more or less.... But the people knew where you came from sort of thing [laughs], you know.
SHUSTER: Where were you sent after the language school?
CONTENTO: Well, after the language school, which was just six or eight months, then our chairman of the mission, a fellow named [Dixon Edward] Hoste, the...the general director, I think they called him at that time, he came up and designated us. And by that time I had decided that I wanted to go to the...the most difficult par...place in the world. I wanted to go to Tibet. Yeah. I wanted to be a pioneer in Tibet, you know. You get these ideas. So when he came to designate us and he asked each one...he had asked before, "Where did you think you want to go?" and so on and so forth. And he asked me, "Where did you feel that you would like to go?" And I said, "Sir," I said, "I...I've been talking for a long time to, oh, anybody who asks me that I want to go Tibet." Oh, he had a very...very strange, high squeaky voice. And he said, [imitates Hoste's high-pitched voice] "Well, Mr Contento, you know, there are more people who want to go to Tibet than Tibetans themselves." "What? What's that?" And then he explained there was other difficulties. "Anybody who went to Tibet would have to buy a gun, a shotgun, because," he said, "every Tibetan was armed. And if you...they met you unarmed, you...you'd be robbed. So, you had to have an...an arm...a gun, if you wanted to. And he said, "Our mission has a policy against carrying guns." So, he said, "No missionary." The Christian and Missionary Alliance were in Tibet. They did carry guns. But later they also changed their mind and didn't...didn't continue working in Tibet. So anyway, the...he said, [imitates Hoste's high-pitched voice] "Well, I'll send you near as possible." So he said to me, "Outer...Inner Mongolia." [laughs] On the northwest China border called Inner-Mongolia. Now the province has a name. It's called Ningxia. So that's where I landed.
SHUSTER: That was...that was in Ing-Xia?
CONTENTO: Ningxia, yeah. 1929 I arrived in Ningxia. And unfortunately, at that time there had been a very terrible famine in that whole northwest area. There had been no rain for two years. And people are dying like flies all over the place. Hundreds died. We saw them. You...you see these pictures in Somalia, you know, these Somalia.... Well, it's like that, even worse. You see them sprawled along the roadside where they fell from exhaustion and just left there. And...and if you offered them money, they...they didn't want any money. They couldn't use money.
SHUSTER: Were you able to do anything for them?
CONTENTO: Not...we couldn't do a thing for them. They needed water and they needed food. So there was nothing you could do. It was pitiful. But I didn't go there. I went to Ningxia which is very different. Ningxia is a watered, irrigated piece of land about a...let's see...a hundred Chinese...well, no...a hundred Chinese miles...no, more than that. About a hundred miles long along the Yellow River and maybe about twenty, twenty-five, thirty miles wide. A strip of land that was irrigated by the Yellow River. So it was plentiful, lots of food and.... So, when I arrived there, the old couple that were there, they were surprised. They said, "We didn't ask the mission to send us anybody." [Shuster laughs] I said, "Well, here I am." So....
SHUSTER: What were their names?
CONTENTO: Mr. and Mrs. Rist. I think it's [spells out letters] R-I-S-T, Rist. Unfortunately, the poor man, you know nice, great, big , tall, fine man he...he was handing out food to refugees. A lot of refugees came to that area because there was food in that area. And in contact with them, he got a louse [insect] from them. He got bitten by that louse and it killed him.
SHUSTER: Was that shortly after you arrived?
CONTENTO: Yeah, I'd been...arrived...I'd been...less than two months after I arrived. And here this lady became a widow. So that was a...quite a tragedy for her. [coughs]
SHUSTER: Did she stay there?
CONTENTO: No, she left. She had two children in the mission school in Chefoo, Shandong Province. And she went back and retired in Canada. I visited her later one time and they were struggling. That time was...economics were very bad in America at that time and in Canada too. They just struggled to keep alive and that's...so that was that. Anyway then....
SHUSTER: So you very quickly became the only missionary...?
CONTENTO: Yes, I was then the only missionary on that station and nearest missionary was north of me was at Ninxia City (I was at Zhongwei City)...Ningxia City. And he...he came down sometimes to...to see me. I went there sometimes to see him. We had to ride horses because bicycles were not suitable, too much sand on the road going up and down, so.... But anyway, we had a very competent evangelist who became my mentor. And....
SHUSTER: This a Chinese evangelist?
CONTENTO: A Chinese evangelist, yeah. And he had been an...an evangelist with that former missionary in another station before. Now he was a trained evangelist. He never preached less than two hours. This was the kind [laughs] of an evangelist he was. [laughs]
SHUSTER: What was...what was his name?
CONTENTO: His name was Chang, [spells out letters] C-H-A-N-G. K....Chang Kwei...K-W-E-I and C-H-E-N-G. C-H-A-N-G K-W-E-I C-H-E-N-G. Chang Kwei Cheng. He was a very powerful evangelist. That's how [laughs]...oh, I...I learned how to evangelize under him, how to preach.
SHUSTER: How...what were his sermons like? How did he...how did he [unclear]...?
CONTENTO: That's whole point, that's the whole point. He preached the whole gospel in every sermon. [laughs] Yeah. Well, you see, you have to remember that you're talking to people who have no concept whatsoever concerning the Bible, concerning the origin of man, concerning the origin of sin, origin of.... Well, to peach...preach to them, "Believe in Jesus," and they say, "Well, why should I? I believe in Buddha. Isn't that good enough? Your god is no better than mine." And then you say, "Jesus is the Son of God." "Well, who is God?" You see? So, you always had to start at the same place: the existence of God, what God was like, the creation, God created heaven and earth, created man and man sinned and so on and so.... You had to tell the whole story, every time, repeat it again and again a thousand times, because that was basic. They didn't know that, they...they...you couldn't build on anything else. So...so that's what we did from village to village and town to town. And we established two little churches during the time of that evangelist...was alive. One in Zhongwei City, which when I....which when I took it over, it had about twenty in it and when I left it had maybe about forty. But recently I have had pictures of that same church and there are about two hundred and fifty. [laughs, unclear] And the man who built that up was the young man who at one time was my...was my carter. We had a horse and cart.
CONTENTO: And he...he became the evangelist later.
SHUSTER: What was his name?
CONTENTO: His name was Mark [spells out letters] H-S-U.
CONTENTO: Hsu. Mark Hsu. He died just recently. I corresponded with him after I came back to America.
SHUSTER: But he survived the Communist takeover...
CONTENTO: Oh, yes, yes.
SHUSTER: ...and the Cultural Revolution?
CONTENTO: Yes. He survived everything. And they didn't seem to bother him too much at that edge of the world, you know, on the Mongolian border. So he survived alright and.... But since Mao [Zedong] died [in 1976], you know, there's been an explosion in China.
SHUSTER: Among the Christians?
CONTENTO: Among the Christians, yeah. I went there three...four years ago. I went everywhere in China and saw the tremendous changes that are taking place in China. Anyone goes to China now, they don't know China. They know China after Mao. They don't know China before Mao. And it's a day and night difference. So Communists did a tremendous lot of physical changes, all for the better. But of course, otherwise, you know, their Communist ideology was rubbish and that we all know without exposition of it. [laughs] So then we started getting the...so the first nine years I was planting...church planting. That was what it was. But I have a long story to tell you about the student work. So if you...I don't know if you've got time or not.
SHUSTER: Yeah, oh, I've...I've...I've more than [enough] time. So, but...so you were in Inner Mongolia then until 1936? Is that right?
CONTENTO: No, 19...yeah. No, 1933. I must go...track back a little bit...
CONTENTO: ...and how I met my wife.
CONTENTO: They...they...just myself at that one station. And there was station beyond called Ningxia and there was a missionary there named Wood.. Mr. Wood. W-O-O-D. Wood. So I think it was...probably had an S after, Mr. Woods. And the mission sent up...sent him....
SHUSTER: A CIM missionary?
CONTENTO: Yeah, CIM missionary. They sent up two single ladies up that way. And they had to pass my station first to go on to the other, 'cause they came down from...from the capital city of Lanzhou down the Yellow River. And we were on the Yellow River and I was the first city on the Yellow River. Then further down was the big city of Ningxia. Mine was called Zhongwei, a smaller town. And then my wife came down on that raft with...with Mr. Woods. And I met her there for the first time. But I wasn't attracted to her [Shuster laughs] the first time at all, because she'd been teaching five years in the mission school in...
CONTENTO: ...in Shandong.
SHUSTER: In Shantung.
CONTENTO: Yangdong...Yen.... [unclear]...what it's...it's called. It was the name of the city. And it was called Chefoo, Chefoo City. And actually the title is [says with Chinese pronunciation] Chefoo, Chefoo City. And we had a big high school there which is...was very renowned, very well known. She was teaching science in that school. Then she decided to take a break after five years and come up the country and learn a little language and see the work. And that's where we met. So, she was staying with the Woods about three hundred kilometers further north down the Yellow River. And then she came to our station to do some women's work in particular, 'cause I had no one doing the women's work. And she came with Mrs. Woods. And I met her for the first time and then we met a few....
END OF TAPE