... the gate with its three large Chinese characters: Le Dao Yuan
- "Campus of The Joyous Way." In September, 1943, our Chefoo contingent stepped
off the lorries and poured through that gate to a rousing welcome and into an
... some of us Chefoo boys became "Camp Rangers" responsible
for cleaning the grounds. That job gave us the added "privilege" each day of
carrying our stretcher box loaded with leaves and trash out through The Gate
to dump the refuse on the river bank beyond the barrier wall.
--- on August 17, 1945, internees poured through The Gate to
welcome six American liberators and to carry them in triumph to accept the
surrender of the Japanese commanding officer. Three or four of us Chefoo boys
sneaked away from that triumphant procession and dashed into Weihsien (village),
where we found the Catholic Mission. I'll never forget the welcome we were
given. And I'll never forget that when we got back to The Gate, we found ourselves
... on September 10, my sisters and brother -- Kathleen, Mary,
John -- and I left through The Gate to be flown to a U. S. air base in Xian
for a reunion with our parents the next day -- September 11, 1945. We had not
seen our parents for 5 1/2 years.
... that Block 23 had been a classroom building with a bell tower.
I remember in the beginning of our Weihsien days that some of us Chefoo boys
were assigned dormitory space on the second floor. Our steamer trunks became
our beds and our seats, because that dormitory was also our classroom.
... climbing into the attic of Block 23 to see the pigeon nests
or to catch a baby pigeon to make it our pet. One of the prisoners, Hugh Hubbard,
nurtured a whole generation of budding ornithologists in Weihsien. Hugh Hubbard
was one of my heroes in the camp. I still have my bird watching diary from
... when the Japanese discovered that the men housed in the third
floor of the hospital were signalling messages to Chinese beyond the wall. They
moved the men out and moved us Chefoo boys in. I perched a hollow tree trunk
behind a rain gutter on the hospital roof and watched a family of sparrows nesting
and raising their young. If I did it right, I could chew up bread from Kitchen
Number One and get the fledgling sparrows to eat the mush right out the side
of my mouth.
... that Main Road was lined by acacia trees. Main Road took us
past the church, past rows of tiny internee dorms, past Kitchen Number One to
Block 23. High in the trees along Main Road, we scrounged dead branches for
firewood. I remember too well the death of Aliosha Marinellis. I was in the
branches on one side of Main Road, and Marinellis was in the branches on the
other. He was high in a tree, holding on to a branch above him and jumping
to break off the dead branch under his feet. I saw the dead branch snap under
his feet. I saw the branch he was holding snap. And I saw him crash to the
ground. He never regained consciousness. Dr. Howie told us later that a few
days before this accident, he had talked to Marinellis about how uncertain
life is and how important faith in Christ is.
... my half hour shifts pumping water at three pumping stations
- sometimes at the bakery, sometimes near the shoe repair shop near the hospital,
and sometimes near the ladies' toilets next to Block 36.
I remember: ... I lost my prisoner-number badge on that same basketball court.
You could NEVER be caught without your prisoner-number badge. So my sister
Kathleen helped me make a fake one. Roll call became a daily terror. Would
the Japanese discover my fake badge? Many days later, I picked up a filthy
piece of cloth and discovered it was my badge. Imagine my relief!