Gudao, Lone Islet

Pictures of 1930s Shanghai

Telfer Family

Our father, Alexander, was in China as a result of the destructive effect of the First World War on his Scottish family. (See Remembrance essay in Here Comes the Moon.)

Florence, our mother, was occupied in charitable voluntary work such as providing food for Chinese girls and women in danger of being forced in to prostitution, and food, clothes and toys for mixed race orphans. She relaxed playing mah jong with friends, and was home to welcome us from school.

Alexander, our father, was head (Superintendent) of the detectives (CID) for the Shanghai Municipal Council’s police force. Though very busy in his work, our father always spent time with us and took us somewhere on Saturdays – often to the Chocolate Shoppe.

These are pictures of my brother Gordon and me (Margaret) during our idyllic early childhood in Bubbling Well Road.

During this time, Amah, Ah Ling, our nurse, the centre of our daily lives, our beloved Chinese mother, cared for us.

The photographs above are of the soapstone carving of a boy playing a flute. The front view is on the title page and the back view is on the page immediately after the end of the story. This was a present from my beloved Amah, Ah Ling, after the end of the war. It features in the same positions in my second book, Shanghai Scarlet. In that book it is also a gift, chosen by Qiu Peipei and given by her true love, Mu Shiying.

Modern picture of the main stairway of the Cathedral Girls’ School (now a restaurant) up which I went to deliver the daily attendance of the Kindergarten class to Miss Penfold, our Head Mistress.

The camel I almost had enough courage to ride at a birthday party.

Before internment, we had to have our dearly loved pets euthanized. “I had never felt that sense of loss, never cried like that before.”

This is a Christmas card created by our father, Alexander Telfer, with his self portrait. He sent it to us from his separate, kempetai camp, to ours during our internment.

Gordon and me soon after the War’s end.

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Here comes the moon Shanghai Scarlet Gudao, Lone Islet