Letter from Alfred Stearns to Chung Ying (C.Y.) Sun, Tientsin, May 5, 1922


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Letter from Alfred Stearns to Chung Ying (C.Y.) Sun, Tientsin, May 5, 1922


Letter from Alfred Stearns to Chung Ying (C.Y.) Sun, Tientsin, May 5, 1922


My dear Mr. Sun:

I have received and read with keen interest your friendly letter of April 7. Your feelings about the importance of teaching these youngsters economy are fully shared by me; but I confess that in these unusual days I find it very hard to know just where to draw the line. In general let me say that the boys personally have shown little disposition to indulge in extravagances; for the past few months they have spent considerably less than they did when they first arrived. This is only natural, for at the outset there were special expenses which had to be met to cover new conditions, expenses which are unlikely to occur again.

The largest item, where I feel that a curtailment might have been made, is that relating to the past summer. Unless boys away from home can join regular summer camps it is next to impossible to find suitable conditions or places under which they may safely pass the summer months. The camps referred to vary widely in character and price. The Y.M.C.A., for example, conducts a number of camps, but almost entirely for boys of very limited means and boys who, in the main, have had little cultural background. I felt pretty confident that such an arrangement would not commend itself to you as best for the children during their first summer in America. The camp which I selected for Arthur and Quincey was well known to me and in charge of men with whom I have been associated in the past, and felt sure that the boys would live there under the best of conditions. I knew it was fairly expensive camp but did not realize until the first bills arrived that the charges had been increased considerably above what i had known them to be in the past. Under the circumstances, I shall not make use of this particular camp next summer. I think, however, that I have found another that will answer the purpose and where the charges will be distinctly less; indeed the cost of living has fallen off a bit this year, and I now from my own experience that the charges of the past summer will probably not be justified this year. Even so, the expenses in connection with running a camp of this kind are always pretty heavy, if the boys who are there are to have the proper attention and the bets of conditions.

Lin from the start has been very earnest in his desire to keep his expenses low. He has succeeded pretty well too. At his own request I found him a camp last summer where the rates were about as low as any. I think it was just the place for him last year, but he, himself, admits that he needs a different environment this year, and especially older boys.

One of the hardest items to meet satisfactorily is that of clothes, as the price of clothing has fallen very little from the excessive prices which came into being during the war. Tom and Charlie have been growing so rapidly They have very much outgrown most of the clothes they brought with them and even some which were purchased soon after their arrival. Miss Clemons has made a special effort to secure good bargains from reliable firms; and such purchases have been made and for which there appeared to be definite need. In justice to the boys I ought to say that they have clung tenaciously to the old clothes, even when it was apparent that these should have been discarded, if the youngsters were not to give among their mates a definite impression of real poverty. As I said before, I have many evidences to indicate that the boys, themselves, were earnest in their desire to keep their expenses as low as possible.

You have probably noted that Mary's charges for this year have been five dollars per week. I wish that I could make them less and still cover actual expenses. Of course if I lived in a simple home such as I should prefer to do and would do if it were not for my official position here, the problem would be immensely simple. I can assure you, however, that I shall do everything I can to carry out your expressed and very sensible wishes in this connection.

Charlie continues to make particularly good progress in his school work. His teachers tell me that he is gathering momentum very rapidly, far more so than they had supposed possible Tom, as I have already intimated, will have to repeat the current year's work next year, but he ought to be able to handle it well by that time. This will put him only one year behind Charlie where, according to his age, he would naturally belong. From all I can gather, Arthur is working hard and with good success. Mary, I believe, is getting all we can expect from Abbot Academy this year, and certainly in the classroom more than she would have secured at Northfield. My biggest problem is to find the right school for her next year; for in these days the American boarding school for girls, especially, presents a curious phenomenon, and one hesitates to intrust a girl to the influences which seem to predominate in most, at least, of these institutions.

Again thanking you for your very frank and helpful letter and with warmest personal regards, believe me

Very sincerely yours,


Alfred Stearns


Phillips Academy


May 5, 1922


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