January 31st 1945


by Mrs. Grace Harris

Chefoo School teacher

I expect that the happiest day in Weihsien will be the day we leave. Next to that, I doubt if any day will be happier for the camp as a whole than January 31st 1945, for on that day, the Red Cross Comfort parcels were distributed. For days before, these parcels and who were to receive them had been the subject of conversation "ad nauseam". So much so, that one meal time, when we had agreed not to mention them again, someone wanting bread said absentmindedly, "Please pass the parcel." I remember that it was a cloudy but very mild day. We woke up that morning with a very pleasant feeling that there was something to look forward to. There was a festive air abroad, nearly everyone looked contented.

Soon after morning roll-call, the queues began to form outside the Assembly Hall. I remember that I could not credit it when I was told that each parcel weighed 50 lbs., but it was true, and we were glad enough to accept the offers of the young and strong to carry them home for us.

One compensation of living on very plain fare is the capacity that it develops of enjoying simple things – such as a cup of coffee, a stick of chewing gum! Most of us are still enjoying our parcels. Our hope is that the war will be over before the burden under our beds is empty.

Surely for the rest of our lives, we shall feel a glow of gratitude whenever we see "American Red Cross" – and these new words we have added to our vocabularies such as "spam" "prem" "mor" will bring back memories of craving for something good to eat amply satisfied.

As our Russian neighbour often says when she comes to borrow our patent can-opener, "God bless America!"

Grace Harris.
- Chefoo School teacher – 1943
- Weihsien 1943 - April 12th 1945.
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