The lone flush toilet in Chungking


Ernie Allison “checked out” Moon Chin in June, 1936, qualifying him as an airline captain competent to command his own plane. It was a big promotion, and much responsibility for a twenty-three year old. Moon Chin’s salary doubled, and Moon’s girlfriend, Elsie, suddenly wanted to get married.

Moon Chin borrowed $500 to make it happen, and they married in the Community Church at 53 Avenue Petain in the French Concession on May 10, 1936. Bondy and Kitsi attended, along with much of the company staff. Afterwards, Ernie Allison assigned Moon Chin to fly the Chungking to Chengtu line and sent the newlyweds upriver. The move started badly for Elsie. She burst into tears when she reached Chungking and discovered that there was only one flush toilet in the entire city, in the visitor’s quarters of the Bank of Chungking. The toilet had no door, it faced the stairway, and Harold Bixby considered it “about as private as the information booth at Grand Central Station.” Moon Chin and Elsie moved to Chengtu, where the plumbing was no better, but it made more sense to base the air service’s pilot from that town. They rented a suite of rooms from a Szechwan general.


[i] Author’s interview with Moon Chin, September 17, 2004 and July 15, 2005.

[ii] Community Church at 53 Avenue Petain: All About Shanghai and Environs: A Standard Guidebook, The University Press, Shanghai, 1934-1935 edition, text online at http://www.earnshaw.com/shanghai-ed-india/tales/t-all.htm.

[iii] “and Chin Moon-fun, we saw his wedding”: Bond to Kitsi, Saturday, August 28, 1937, written in Hong Kong on Peninsula Hotel stationary, the Bond Papers.

[v] The only flush toilet in Chungking, and it being “about as private as the information book at Grand Central Station:” Harold M. Bixby, Topside Rickshaw, Ch VIII, pp. 7

 

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