Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with John H. Holdridge
HOLDRIDGE: That is correct. So we had a very lovely time at Fort Bliss. For a while, we lived off the post and then on the post in a house, a beautiful old, Victorian, Gothic-style, right next to the commanding general's quarters. But all things have to come to an end and in 1934, he was ordered to the Philippines. Fort Stotsenberg, it was called in those days. It became better known later as Clark Field. And there we had a regiment of Philippine Scouts cavalry, the 26th Cavalry, a regiment of Philippine Scouts artillery, the 24th Field Artillery, and unique in the US Army, Battery A, 23rd Field Artillery, which was a mountain gun battery. Since the US Army didn't have any mountain guns already made in US arsenals, they were using captured World War I artillery from the Austrians. But anyway, we had a wonderful time in the Philippines, very exciting and in a sense, rewarding to my father not only professionally but financially because he was paid in dollars. A dollar, in those days, was worth two pesos, and a peso in the Philippines could buy as much as a dollar could buy. We were able to save enough funds so that at the conclusion of the tour in 1937 my father was able to make arrangements to get us up to China. We took a Dutch boat from Manila, sailed to Hong Kong, spent some time there in which we got to Canton, went up the coast, a brief stop in Amoy, then a few days in Shanghai, then over to Kobe, Japan, then to Tokyo, and then went to Kyoto and then from there, back by the way of Osaka to Tungku, we use to call it, what is now the new port of China where the river that runs through Tianjin comes out into the Yellow Sea. And from Tianjin (which we called Tientsin in those days) we went to Beijing, known then as Peking, and spent virtually, well, over two months in that place.
Q: How old were you at the time?
HOLDRIDGE: I was twelve.
Q: So you were really absorbing?
HOLDRIDGE: Yes. So that is one of the reasons I am where I am today. That is, I fell in love with China in Beijing. I had my own rickshaw coolie. We stayed at a place called the College of Chinese Studies where missionaries and business people came to learn Chinese. Very pleasant up there in the Tatar city in the northwest quadrant, I beg your pardon, northeast quadrant of Peking. I just wandered freely around the place and just saw everything that I wanted to. We got up to the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, all of these beautiful cultural aspects of Chinese civilization.
Q: What was the date of the Marco Polo incident?