Viewing page 202 of 228


I was able to perfect an arrangement with the management of the apartment house for the services of a Chinese house-boy named Ing.  His duties were housekeeping in the morning and to cook dinner in the late afternoon.  Ing gave me the impression he was very fond of music and asked my permission to sit in the kitchen so he would have the chance to listen to the piano playing of one of my guests who was quite famous for his pianistic skills and a frequent visitor.  Music may have been his pitch but he was a lot more interested in the tips he picked up performing errands for my visitors.

The arrangement was excellent but like all excellent arrangements it had a flaw ... that flaw was that it was an impossibility to teach Ing to answer the telephone with any degree of either accuracy or commonsense.  This frequently occasioned some embarassment.  Often I'd come in and inquire if there had been any telephone calls and he'd answer briefly "Yes"

"Who called?", I'd ask
"I dunno"
"Did you ask them?"
"I just say, Missy fliah no home."
"Did they ask when I'd be home?"
"Oh yes"
"What did you tell them?"
"I say sometime.  Maybe today, maybe tomollow .. maybe next day."

I often wondered what thought chased each other around in the minds of my callers when they received this typical Oriental round-and-round.

I soon learned that China-boys of 1912 were a class unto themselves.  They had many traits, some amusing others so completely baffling that no one could possible understand.  For instance, they were absolutely adamant about throwing out dead flowers.  On the other hand, once you secured the employment of a China-boy, you would never be left high and dry without notice.  They were abnormally sensitive and easily hurt, very frequently 
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact