AMOY MAGIC SITE from
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Copyright 2001-7 by Sue Brown & Dr.
page copyrighted 2006 by Gary Veenschoten, MD)
Vignettes by Dr. Girard Veenschoten:
Amoy Animals Chinese
New Year Related: Hill
by Girard (Gary) Veenschoten, M.D.
Also read Henry V.'s Story by daughter
Dad [Henry Veenschoten] was born in 1892, a month before mother. His was
a Dutch family who immigrated to the United States from the Netherlands.
His father died a few months before he was born. He came from Holland.
His mother was born in this country. Dad was the youngest of six children.
They lived in a Dutch settlement in northwest Iowa, beginning as poor
farmers, becoming well to do. They spoke Dutch in the home. All were great
Christian people. A great event of the week was Sunday, when the whole
family went to church three times and Sunday school. The ambition of all
Dutch families was to have one child become a minister. Here, dad was
Dad went to the academy in orange city, and
from there he went
to hope college, graduating in 1914. Then he entered western theological
seminary, associated with the college. Dad was graduated in 1917. He could
preach in Dutch. Just after seminary he married mother, and then they
became long term missionaries of the Reformed Church in America, and,
along with quite a group, was assigned to the Amoy
Mission in Fukien, China. Mother
had an excellent soprano voice, and played the piano expertly. She was
well trained in classical music.
They spent two years in language study and were assigned to the station
in Chang Chow. Dad's primary interest
was evangelism, and, as time went on became moderator of a large classis
of Chinese churches in the growing Christian community. In later years
he also taught in our Christian Chinese seminary.
I was born in 1919, my sister Joann, in 1923, and my sister Elin was
born in 1929.
After furlough dad was given a small inheritance. It is important to remember
that 25 cents bought a good meal. And a hair cut cost two bits. So dad
and mother decided to have built a summer home.
We must remember, too, that Amoy is about
4 degrees north of the tropic of cancer. It faced the Pacific ocean, catching
a tremendous amount of moisture against the coastal mountains. We must
also remember that there was an inherited British colonial attitude from
seventy years of privileged living, in what amounted to a British colony.
Also, we have to remember that the times of the twentieth century were
extremely turbulent. Thus, building a rest home to get away from the heat,
showed both courage and confidence in the future.
Toa Bo Suan (big hat mountain) or, in mandarin, Tai Mo Shan, had been
used for rest and recuperation for many years by all of the missionary
Here it was that dad and mother decided to build a house in 1928.
Dad and mother had been living in houses that had been built, over the
years, to be accommodated to the tropical climate. We had the heat, which
was awful in the summer. As I said, the humidity was in the 90's all day
and all night. One just couldn't sleep. I have seen people die of sunstroke,
becoming delirious. The mosquitoes were huge. They spread malaria, which
killed people by the millions. More people died of other tropical diseases,
like tuberculosis. I saw a man throw up his lungs on the street in front
of our house. I had a positive tuberculin test at the age of 13.
I still have the primary complex. The coast was beautiful with its vistas
of the sea. But we had tropical storms, which sometimes became typhoons
Dad and mother decided on a beautiful site between two hills, and overlooking
the ocean fifteen miles away, wooded with tall pines.
There was the ruins of a two story house a short distance away, which
provided bricks. This is one of the riches of Fujian
(Fukien). It has a rich red soil that bakes into indestructive bricks.
There was granite which could be quarried next door. The roof would be
made of tile, which have been perfected over the centuries, curved so
one course faced up and one course faced down to protect against typhoons.
Dad planned a spacious house facing south toward the ocean, with three
bedrooms, two baths, a large living room dining room with a large granite
faced fireplace (for which he got the plans from the "Ladies Home
Journal" the floors were clay floor tile. We also had screens on
the very large veranda facing south, and all over the house.
There were two disadvantages. The coolie had to carry water about two
blocks from the spring. The resort was about twenty miles from Amoy. It
was a strenuous trip by bus, river boat, and finally "shanks mare"
up the 1800 foot mountain.
We were able to use the house in 1928, and 1937. It was safe and secure
and "far from the madding crowd".
We were in the U.S. in 1932 on furlough. That was also the year Japan
started insinuating her way into china. 1934 we had to evacuate to Amoy.
The whole of Fukien was unsafe. In 1937
I came back to the u.s. Our parents had to evacuate to the Philippines,
after living two years in Amoy (Xiamen).
It is my understanding that the resort was used by the military during
the Mao Tse Tung era.
Help the "The Amoy Mission Project!" Please
share any relevant biographical
material and photos for the website and upcoming book, or consider helping
with the costs of the site and
research materials. All text and photos will remain your property,
and photos will be imprinted to prevent unauthorized use.
I heard from someone that the house burned down when a fire swept the
During their lifetime, I have never heard a word of complaint from either
dad or mother about the locale, or how hard their work was, or about the
circumstances under which they lived when they came back to the U.S. in
1940. They were given a typical Chinese send off, which the Chinese give
to those they love and respect, tapestries which were inscribed with eulogies
for their long service.
Bill Xiamen University MBA Center
Snail Mail: Dr. William Brown
Box 1288 Xiamen University, Xiamen, Fujian
Last Updated: October 2007
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