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Helen Burton ...

Peiping, China
September, 1948

Hello, Everybody:

By this time most of you know that I have been spending the summer in Woollcott's "Last Citadel of Leisure" -- Peking. It's an experience I shall always treasure but I find it hard to tell you the half that has made it the most thrilling of holidays. I can only hope that at times in telling of the mundane details some of the unpaintable joy will shimmer through and you will feel with me a bit of the mountain top excitement.

I'll begin with April, 1948, in Honolulu where I had been living since the end of 1944. At this time, I began to book and cancel and book again to over-take the mirage of my private "I Shall Return" campaign - to Peking, I might add. The political situation at that time was a bit worse than usual and I had no desire to join my American friends in the salt mines of Siberia. Cleaning latrines in Weihsien for the citizens of the Land of the Rising Sun was enough for me of the non-American way of life. However, desire finally triumphed over the warning of friends and I found myself booked on the President Polk, sharing a beautiful cabin with Katherine Forbes, who was the owner of a round-the-world ticket on this deluxe floating hotel. En route we lingered a day or two at Yokohama and Shanghai but my destination was Hongkong where my third daughter, Chang Tsu Yi, married to Raymond Tan, was living. Raymond is a rising, I hope, young journalist on the Ta Kung Pao, one of the larger and more liberal Chinese dailies. Tsu Yi had met and captured the hapless Raymond the year before and they had spent their first months of wedded life in Peking. After a few months, Raymond's paper had transferred them to Hongkong and I was fortunate enough to be headed that way. There had been five long years of separation from my family - three husbands and two grandchildren had widened the family circle - unanswered questions had been hanging fire, and the interval had not been long enough to cool them.

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... Of what follows, in this letter, is all "family gossip" and not in the scope of the present website ...