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Post-war letter from Ju-lan, the real life Nini, to her American cousin, May 1946
Thank you so much for your nice letter. I enjoyed it very much.
Now I am going to answer your questions. No, I don’t remember you, but ma has told me about you and our fighting over the chair many times. I must have been very rude.
I am 13 year old, but I don’t know what grade I am in, because I went to the Tientsin American school till the 3rd grade. Then in 1940 there was no more American school. Then I went to a French convent school. I learned French, English, Arithmetic, and Drawing. Then in 1942 the Japs made us move to the British concession. The house we moved into was a 17 roomed house not counting the servant quartars. Then I went to a chinese school. I had never been to a chinese school before, so I went to the 2 grade. Now I am in the 6 grade. I am not in school now. I stoped in June 1945. I will go back next term. At that time all the schools were so dirty and full of flies and in the winter there was no heat besides 90 percent of the children had T.B. 5 of my classmates have already died of it.
All we learned was Japanese propaganda. They told us that the Americans were trying to invade china and make all the chinese men into slaves. So Japan had sent her Army and Navy to help china because Japan like the chinese so much; and the Americans were so bad, oh dear, the Americans loved to cut off children’s heads off and some of the Americans had two horns and oh yes the Japanese were our brothers. Oh they told such funny stories most of the stories sounded like fairy tales. We had to learn Japanese we all dint like it, so we all flunked in it, and the teacher dint care if we passed or not.
A chinese school is completely different from a foreign school. In China you don’t read your lessons you sing them. We have to memorize all our lessons. I can memorize most of the books I have studied. I have not studied algebra yet, but we will have it next year. Besides arithmetic, I am learning how to use the chinese Abacus. When you use it you don’t have to think. It is very convenient. My name in chinese looks like this. Ellen’s means Lovely Lotus.
I don’t think you have seen a real Jap. I have seen them kill two people. One was a old man he could not understand what the Jap was talking about then the Jap got so mad he pushed the old man against a electric barbed wire and the old man fell down dead. The other was a little girl about 8 years old. The Jap hit her right on the forehead she died also. It made me so angry I felt sick I wanted to pull his eyes out.
During the war there were lots of No. 8s. They have blown up many Jap factorys and Ammunition dumps. No. 8 means chinese guerillas.
I am 4 feet 11 1/2.You must be very tall. I have dark brown hair, dark brown chinese eyes, high cheek bones, a round face now you know what I look like.
My sister is 8 year old. My brother is 4 he will be 5 this May. I have a dog and a cat. Ma just bought me a pair of new shoes it cost $1,600 CNC. Don’t you think that is very expensive?
Ma has been in china so long and she still can’t speak much chinese. Even some of the marines we know can speak better than ma can. She says chinese is the hardest language to learn. The way you speak it the way you write it are not the same.
Tientsin is noting to look at. Its just a mud hole. Peking and Pei To Ho are beautiful places. I don’t know any foreign children because Ma says they are not nice people. All my friend are chinese.
I am glad you went to Florida and had a nice time. I hope everybody is well now. Hope you will write again.
Ju Lan Liu
P.S. Please excuse my spelling—it is horrible.