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Where the Centuries Meet

She was a tourist and she had just finished Sing Fat's. As she passed out of the door she said smugly to her companion - "I don't see anything so wonderful here."

I was standing right there and said I: "Madame, if you have been through Sing Fat's and have failed, to see anything wonderful then you should go home and give yourself the Benet test which is used to test the intelligence of children." Oh, of course, I didn't say this so that the lady could hear. The bravest speeches we humans make are never aloud. Then I continued: "Madame, you may travel far in mileage but you will never take anything back to Dingville, Kansas, richer than a souvenir ash tray."

Why, just to take a trip from Sing Fat's to the White House is a tremendous journey if one has the perceiving faculty. In Sing Fat's a bit of old Cloissonne, tiny pieces of enamel on silver, done with infinite pains by hand labor, perhaps centuries ago, grown beautiful with age. In the White House georgette flowers, exquisite things made for the passing minute, a whiff and a whim and off they go. Just in these two there is a meeting of the centuries, Handcraft Days and the Machine Age - B. C. and A. D. - the oldest civilization in the world and the newest.

The most interesting thing in Chinatown are the Chinese. To some they all look alike, but to me they seem very human and individual and folksy. I find myself paraphrasing: "But for the grace of God there goes John Bradford," and when I meet a crafty looking old Chinaman this whimsy comes to me, "If Deacon Bushnell who passed the plate in the Centerville Methodist Church had been a Chinaman this is the way he would have looked." They are such small town folks. Even with the steady cycle of tourists they gaze at each newcomer as though he were the latest comer to Podunk. One day with a friend I called on a Chinese girl, and all the large family and their friends gathered around and discussed us and laughed among themselves and pointed at us. It was embarrassing but I was never once conscious of rudeness, simply a childlike curiosity and honesty.

In Chinatown the other day a peddler was selling spectacles and somehow the old men trying them on and squinting for "near" and for "far," seemed so quaint and countrified and like a lot of old Yankees around a country store trying to get a "new pair of eyes, by Heck." In Chinatown the tong men do not seem at all real and the hair raising movie serial with its Chinatown terrors, Buddhist idols that open and swallow the movie actors and floors that drop into dungeons, seem very remote.

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