One of the highlights of the just-completed China study tour was the inclusion of journalists. Chris Fyall, a young and energetic reporter with the Bloomington Herald-Times, Greg Andrews, the equally energetic, though slightly older (seasoned?), managing editor of the Indianapolis Business Journal, and George Vlahakis of IU's Office of University Communications were all terrific. Chris, who must not need sleep, filed several stories in the midst of the trip. (When we returned I heard many people remark about the quality of the pieces.) Greg and George both kept blogs as we traveled, and Greg then made China the cover feature for the March 28-April 3 edition of the IBJ. George also took a few thousand photos -- literally -- several of which made it onto his blog, and many others were burned onto CDs he shared with the group.
One special element of their participation is Greg Andrews' special connection to China. His full name is Greg Lattimore Andrews. His great uncle was Owen Lattimore, one of the world's foremost China experts of the 20th century; and his grandmother, Owen's younger sister, was Eleanor Frances Lattimore, who herself was a famous author of children's books. If you haven't read Little Pear to your children, you should (even if your kids are 40). Owen and Eleanor's parents moved to China at the very turn of the century to teach English, first living in Tianjin before moving to Shanghai, where Eleanor was born in 1904. (Owen and Eleanor had 3 other siblings - Katharine, Isabel, and Richmond.) After going to school in the West, Owen returned to China and in the 1920's worked in the insurance division of the British firm, Arnhold Brothers & Company. Part of his job involved traveling to western China to learn about the risks some of their clients faced, and that is how he originally became an expert in a part of China so few westerners (or Chinese) ever saw. Those skills were later translated into positions with the US government (he helped the US and its allies understand Mao and his Communist movement when the CCP was based in Yan'an, in northwestern China) and then as a scholar at Johns Hopkins University. McCarthy singled Lattimore out as one of the "Communists" lurking in the State Department, a total fabrication, but enough to force Lattimore out of Hopkins. He left the US and taught at the University of Leeds in the UK. Lattimore returned to the US much later in life and passed away in Rhode Island in 1989.
Having not learned of Greg's family connections until well after he had agreed to participate and just a couple weeks before we left for China, one side goal of the trip became to find the home in Shanghai where Owen and Eleanor lived. I put a call into my favorite historians: Jeff Wasserstrom, formerly of IU and now at UC-Irvine, has written some great books about Shanghai, including Global Shanghai; and Bill Rowe, who has taught history at Hopkins since the early 1980's. Bill didn't have any info on Owen's old addresses in Shanghai, but he shared a wonderful article (Download Rowe Lattimore JAS 2007) he wrote about Owen's scholarship. Jeff didn't have any details either, but he put me in contact with Shanghai officianado Paul French. Given his authorship of The Old Shanghai: A-Z, I figured we were in luck. I told Paul where we thought Greg's relatives had lived (in something called "The American Compound"), but that didn't yield any more substantial clues. He then put me in touch with another Shanghai specialist Tess Johnston, but her expertise is on the 1930's and 1940's, a little too late for us. So we boarded the plane to China thinking all was lost. Heck, even if we had an address, we figured that the building would have long been torn down and replaced by one of Shanghai's 5,000 high rises.
A couple days into the trip, Paul emailed me with one last suggestion. He said I should try Greg Leck, another Shanghai expert whose interest was the first few decades of the 20th century. I emailed him my final plea, and low and behold, he responded:
My 1916 directory does not show him [Owen], but my 1921 directory already has him moved out to Tientsin, to which he returned from his sojourn in Shanghai, to take up a journalist position. The best I can do is give you the address of his Shanghai workplace: Arnhold Brothers & Co., Ltd. (He worked in the insurance department.) Arnhold Building, 6 Kiukiang Road, Shanghai. (The company moved to Sassoon House at 1 Nanking Road around 1930, but Owen was long gone by then.)
He wrote "best" as if to apologize, but to us, this was fantastic. We had a real place and building to connect Greg to his family. I wrote to Paul and thanked him, and he responded with even more encouragement that made us more excited.
Just to let you know the Kiukiang Road (Jiujiang Road) building of Arnhold and Brothers still stands magnificently on the street and also has a plaque on the building identifying it as the former Shanghai office of Arnhold's. It's well worth a visit and you'll also find some other Arnhold buildings from slightly earlier round the corner on Dianchi Road (formerly Jinkee Road) - these two are identified by plaques on the outside.
So on Friday, March 18, we set out to complete the journey. After wrapping up very interesting visits to Tianma Micro-Electronics and Cummins Fleetguard, we took our charter bus from Pudong back into Puxi (the western side of the Huangpu River) with the rest of our group, but then had the bus drop the two of us off at the first convenient place it could pull over. We then walked 3-4 blocks to get to Jiujiang Lu (九江路), which is the more common way Kiukiang is transliterated into a form non-Chinese readers would understand. We started at about 700 Jiujiang Lu, and the numbers got smaller in the direction of the Bund, so that's the way we went. With even numbers on the left side of the street, we expected sooner or later we would have to run into 6 Jiujiang Lu. Block by block we went, and the numbers got smaller and smaller. I could then see we were getting closer to the Bund, and as we did the buildings began to look older and some of them had plaque on the walls identifying the historical roots. But we were running out of blocks, because the Bund is at the river's edge. When we got within 50 yards of the end of the street, I looked at the last building on the left, and it was something like #36 Jiujiang Lu. The plaque on the side of its cement face gave no indication of the Arhold Brothers & Co. To focus on something different, we crossed the street to the bund itself and enjoyed the skyline view of Pudong and the river and talked to a few curious Chinese. We then crossed back over and decided, hey, let's walk back up on both sides of the street, thinking that perhaps the street numbers since the 1920's had changed, and we should focus on the plaques rather than the address. We did this for about 15 minutes without any clear luck until I happened upon an old man sitting in a booth next to one of these buildings. I explained Greg's story thinking nothing would come of it, but I got an interesting answer. The man, who was serving as a guard for one of the buildings, or at least its parking lot, said that although he himself was born "after Liberation," that is, after 1949, he thought the building directly next to his had at one point been owned by a British company. So we went to give it a second look. We walked all the way around it and found no plaques; we peered through some glass windows, and the inside was currently being entirely renovated. It was stripped bare, with nothing of note inside, and just a light white-gray facade on the outside.
We got no confirmation this was the right place, but we were tired. We had exchanged emails with Jeff, Bill, Paul, Tess, and Greg, and Greg Andrews had consulted his living relatives and even some of their family papers. Despite not being sure, we decided to adopt this building as part of Greg's heritage. In front of it he stood, and I clicked away (iPhones have a nice fake clicking sound).
It's very likely we did something wrong in the search -- that there may be a different Jiujiang Lu, or we should have been at WEST Jiujiang instead of EAST Jiujiang, or we passed by the right building and were just too stupid to notice it, or it was just around the corner and we would have seen it had we taken 10 more steps in this or that direction.
But for now, that's irrelevant. Perhaps for no good reason, Greg and I now are nostalgic about this building. It may or may not be where Owen Lattimore worked in the 1920's, but it was where Greg Lattimore Andrews stood in 2011, and we know for sure his great uncle and grandmother walked these streets and stood along the bund and admired the beauty and vibrancy of where they were. What's a block or two when you've circled half the globe? We may not have found "history," but Greg lived a little more of his family's history. And for that reason, it was an exciting day.
If any of you Shanghai specialists out there know what we did wrong, don't tell us! No, I'm kidding. Please do let us know where we should have gone, and where we should have stood. And if you have a photo, even better! You'll earn a free coffee at the Starbucks nearest to Owen Lattimore's office. Now, I wonder, do you think Owen liked coffee?