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Mary Scott Gash Thornton Letters

1927 - From Wyoming, not yet Thornton- Three Letters
1930 - On Ship and First Months in Japan- Twelve Letters
1930 - Getting Settled - Eighteen Letters
1931 - Preparing for Motherhood - Nine Letters
1931 - Twins are Born - Seven Letters

1930 - On Ship and First Months in Japan - Twelve Letters

Mary’s handwritten notes on envelope as she sorted through what she got from Grandma Gash: “First letters written on board Tenyo Maru enroute to Japan” February 27, 1930

Postmarked February 1930
Hotel Sutter, San Francisco, Cal.
To Mrs. C. H. Gash, % J.B. Helm, 1940 Maplewood Pl., Louisville, KY

Sat. A.M.

Dearest Mother:

Just an hour or so now and Watson and I will go to the boat. We have to be on board not later than 11 – and it’s about 8 now. Today is a holiday and the streets seem rather deserted and it’s raining! Started to sprinkle some yesterday afternoon and has kept up ever since.

We went out yesterday and bought an umbrella, and myself a pair of rubbers (like you have: galoshes are so hot now, you know) Also bought 2 yd. of yellowish-colored pongee (89 cents a year – sale) and a pattern. I cut out the pongee for a blouse, and will sew on it on board – if I’m able.

Last eve – at 5 o’clock, we took the ferry across the bay to Oakland, then by train to Beverly – where a Mr. and Mrs. Mell live who are old friends of the Thorntons. They were in India at the same time – and later had to come back on account of his health. Had a nice meal (ate like a horse) and left on the 9:20 train. Coming back across the bay (it takes about 20 min.) there were quite a few waves but it didn’t make us sick.

You know we got several gifts at Union Station Mon. afternoon, The Murphy girls (3) and Norman and Edna Dunh---pst  (name unreadable) gave us each a beautiful coat-sweater. Mine goes swell with my suit and Watson’s is a dark brown. In each of the pockets of mine are 2 lovely handkerchiefs. You thank them next time you see them (of course, I’ve written). Mrs. Hansen gave us a box containing lovely handkerchiefs for us both, and towels. Wasn’t that lovely of her? Lillian Hecken gave us a box of Herz tea cakes and 2 lovely poems. This is one of them:


The weary ones had rest, the sad had joy
That day, and wondered “how”?
A ploughman, singing at his work, had prayed
“Lord, help them now!”
Away in foreign lands they wondered “how”
Their simple word had power?

At home, the Christians 2 or 3 had met
To pray an hour!
Yes, we are always wondering, wondering “how”
Because we do not see
Someone, unknown perhaps, and far away
On bended knee!

Isn’t that sweet – and true? I know too, that many times our “how” will be answered by your prayers.

I stopped to help pack and now we’re all set. I’m feeling rather weepy this morning – but I’ll just have to get over it.

Miss Cribb wrote to us here and she would like us to live in Dembo right from the start – so write and address your mail to us:

9 Kita Nichome Dembo Machi
Nishiyoda Gawa Ku
Osaka, Japan
% Miss E.R. Cribb

(The postage is 5 cents for an ordinary letter.)

Watson will write later and sends his love. Have a good time down there.

All the love in the world –


Note – Watson re-wrote the address as follows:

9 Kita Nichome Denbo machi
            Nishiyodo Gawa Ku
                        Osaka, Japan

% Miss E. R. Cribb

Mary’s note: First letters written on board Tenyo Maru enroute to Japan 1930.

Postmarked Feb 28, 1930, 9:30 AM
Honolulu, Hawaii
Dated February 27, 1930
On board S.S. Tenyo Maru

Dear Mother Gash,

I had planned to write to you from San Francisco but found that Mary had told you all the news so it is now my turn to write.

Saturday morning we woke up bright & early and had breakfast at 7:30. I then went out to do a bit of shopping while Mary wrote you. After packing we took a taxi down to the pier at 9:00 o’clock, being about the first ones to arrive. We went on board and put our bags in the cabin then walked around a bit till the trunks came.

The boat is about 550 ft. long and has 3 decks on which to walk and our cabin is on the first one below. We have practically the run of the ship possibly because there are not many first class passengers on board. In fact there are only about 30 first class and about 45 or 55 second.

Our cabin is very delightful, being large, clean, airy and convenient. There are two bunks, a chest of drawers, a small clothes closet, a wash bowl and a sort of sofa. So far it has been quite cool as we have been able to have the window open most of the time.

As soon as we hit the ocean out of San Francisco Bay we ran into quite a storm some of the waves being as high as 25 or 30 feet and breaking over the bow of the ship.  Of course, I took sick and went to bed without supper. Mary lasted thru supper then came down to bed also. We remained in bed for practically four days without eating anything. Mary had a couple of apples and a slice of pineapple and I ate a very little potato salad. Since then, however, we have been going to all our meals, though we have felt rather unsteady at times. The fact is, this boat rolls from side to side a great deal and in spite of the fine weather the past few days the heavy swells in the ocean have made the ship roll to such an angle that plates, knives, etc. slide off the table as we are eating. It is rather funny to see a man eating, with his fork half way to his mouth, make a sudden dive for his plate which is sliding across the table into someone else’s territory.

Our meals have been very good and we have had a wide variety of foods to choose from, such as – soup, fish, 2 or 3 kinds of meat (hot), 2 to 4 kinds of cold meats, 2 or 3 vegetables, salad, desert & cake, fruit, cheese, nuts and coffee or tea. You can have any or all without extra cost. Once we have had a Japanese dish of rice covered with chicken, scrambled eggs, green onions and seaweed. I enjoyed it very much. Mary was not feeling very good (sic) so did not tackle it. It is called “Oyako Domburi” that means “the dish of the parent & child”. “Domburi” means “dish” or “bowl of “rice”; “Oya” means “parent” (chicken) and “ko” means “child” (egg).

The passengers on board are very interesting. We have all nationalities – Japanese, Chinese, Philipino, Australians, Russians, Germans, Dutch, Brittish (sic), Americans and a few others. Yesterday afternoon within a space 50 feet square there were at least 4 groups talking 4 distinct languages – sometimes 5 or 6. It has been suggested that we have a peace conference on board ship.

I started this yesterday but ran out of ink so I am finishing it now before entering Honolulu. Mary is up on deck now watching us pull into the harbour. She has been holding up wonderfully. As we were pulling away from the wharf in San Francisco, Mary wept a bit but otherwise she has been just fine. I am enclosing a post card which was given to us last night. It shows the boat quite well. I am going to close now but maybe Mary will want to add a line or so.

Lots & lots of love to you and all the folks in Louisville – but especially you.


Dear Mother:

I wrote Alice and she’ll most likely send my letter to you. Not much more to say.

Give my love to all the aunts and uncles and Grandma!


Tenyo Maru
Dated March 7, 1930

Written above the date: Got a telegraph message yesterday – “Welcome, Psalm 91 – Osaka Mission.” Wasn’t that nice? (Rec’d. on Sat.)

Dearest Mama:

Watson has just started playing a game of chess with one of the other passengers (a Philipino) and so I’ll write a little. My, but we’ll be glad to get back to land! Altho ever since Honolulu, the weather has been fine. That is, up until yesterday. Then we had some rough water, and Watson and I both had to go to bed. He from about 11 A.M. – until this morning – I for just about 5 hours.

Last night we had a “Tenyo Opera Party” given by the stewards of the ship. A regular stage was constructed up on “A” the top deck. Japanese flags, and scenery were used, and the program consisted of entirely Japanese talking, singing, acting and dancing. So different from anything we have in America. Seemingly no rhythm in their dances and all the music is so minor – and their instruments! A hollow-sounding drum, and an instrument called a “biwa” (pronounced bee-waw) which sounded to me like a ukulele with a broken string! This was plucked and carried the “melody” while the drum was thumped, and a man sang the most weird melodies! Occasionally someone played what seemed to be a flute. You can imagine the result. And that went on thru out the entire program of about 3 hours. Watson couldn’t go of course – but I went up and enjoyed it – although I got rather tired and couldn’t understand a word that was spoken.

Today we opened up my trunk and the bottom fell out of the tray. Watson got a lot of string and tied it together so we hope it will last.

While in San Fran. I bought a gift to take to both Aunt Effe & Miss Cribb. For Aunt E a pretty hand-made gown & a Philippino gown for Miss Cribb. They wrapped them real prettily – bought them at a lovely department store “The White House”. I believe it is considered one of their best.

Watson may speak this Sun. A.M. in the service from 11 – 12. I’ll play. We had one last Sun and another missionary on board spoke.

I’m making myself a yellow blouse – the material I got in San Fran. Couldn’t get the sleeves in right so am making it sleeveless! Imagine me! Making it all by hand.

Will close now and write some more later. Can’t mail this until we get to Yokohama anyway.


Am enclosing some pictures. Will send some to Thornton’s as soon as we have more developed. Not been feeling so well as the sea is pretty rough. Get to Yoko – 7 in the morning. My love to all – Lovingly,


Dated Feb 27, 1930
On Board Tenyo Maru

Dear Alice and Ralph:

My! But we’d both like to be on land. Been sea-sick most of the time we’ve been on board.

Right now there are about 25 of us first and second class passengers sitting up on the stern of the boat on what is called “B deck” in our steamer chairs, enjoying the lovely breeze, the horrible smells of cooking and the terrible ocean swells. This sea-sick feeling is simply indescribable. There are only a few of all on board who haven’t been affected. We’ve not had a good sea since we started (and this is Thurs). However, everyone is friendly, and I believe after Honolulu – which we reach in the morning – maybe the sailing will be better. Mind you, there have been no storms – but just a continuous rolling from one side to another and from one end to another. Watson succumbed first – Sat. eve – just before dinner – then I – Sun. A.M. and both were in bed until yesterday A.M with the exception of several hours Tues. aft. The dining saloon has made some money off us – ha!

I think of you all so much. Of course when we left San Fran. harbor I cried. Some Japanese Christians sang “God Be With You” in Jap. To some Japs on board – and of course that made me think of our leaving St. Louis. By the way – out of about 200 passengers on board only 10% are Americans. Besides the entire crew is Jap – with a very few Chinese. Of course, I think of papa a lot and it seems so impossible. And to think that every mile we travel takes us farther and farther away. The Lord has a pretty poor missionary in me I’m afraid. Several times I’ve gotten scared of the ocean and have cried – etc. But you’ll pray for me, I know. (I can’t help it but I’m crying now.)

Some Jap has 2 beautiful dogs on board. Wonder if they’re sea sick? Tell Dorothy Butleiger, and Dorthea that I enjoyed their letters and will write some day.

Kiss the baby and send this letter to mama. I’ll alternate in writing and just put all the news in one letter.

We spent our 1st anniversary in bed -! But when we came aboard Sat there was a lovely pot of red tulips which Watson has send –“to his beloved wife in honor of our 1st ann. and 2nd honeymoon.” Wasn’t that nice?

Write as soon as possible – and please let Elsie & Perc read this as theirs also.

Loads of love – Mary

Note: Marked Letter 1 from Japan

At Miss Cribb’s
“The Osaka Mission”

Dearest Mother:

So many things have been happening and strange at that – and I want to let you know as much as possible about them. I last wrote you from Yokohama so I’ll start there.

The weather turned very cold on reaching Yokohama and we nearly froze while in dock there, as there was no heat at all. Consequently we donned our heavier underclothes and felt very comfortable in them. The trip of one day to Kobe was fairly comfortable – altho’ Wed night there was quite a swell storm.

I love the Japanese and although everything is so new and strange – yet I believe in time I will get to love almost everything here. The people are so polite and their clothes so attractive – and their customs interesting. You should see us bowing! You see, the minute we are introduced to people, down we go on our knees with our faces to the floor! Miss Cribb thought it best for me not to try to study Japanese until I had a regular teacher – so I’ve only learned a few words from the conversation at the table, etc.

When the Tenyo sailed into Kobe Thursday A.M. at 10 only Aunt Effe was there. Miss Cribb had been told that the boat didn’t arrive until 12 – and so they all missed the boat! It was a great disappointment for Hojaimi San came all the way from Kaibara (a 2 ½ hour trip) about 8 or 9 Christians came from Sanda and Tsukiu San, The Asahimas and Miss Cribb came from Dembo (about an hour’s journey). We took our grips to the customs (didn’t have any duty to pay on anything – although our trunks weren’t inspected until about 2:30 in the afternoon) then went and registered at the American Consulate. It was there that Miss Cribb, etc., met us and Mrs. Asahima gave me a lovely bouquet of flowers. Had lunch – all of us (about 15) in the dining room of the Daimaru, a 7 story dept. store in Kobe – after which we left and came to Dembo. We have a nice little room upstairs in the missions which is the Asahima’s & Miss Cribb’s home. There are 10 rooms (some very small) and the meetings are held down stairs. Right at this minute Mrs. Asahima is speaking to 400 children downstairs packed like sardines in a space containing approx. 500 sq. ft.! This is a plan of the downstairs.

Now you know exactly how it looks. Between every room are sliding doors from ceiling to floor which are all removed and put in a closet together with all the furniture – leaving one big empty room for the meetings. Miss Cribb has 2 electric heaters which we use for warmth – the hibachi don’t contain a great deal of heat! She has a servant who cleans and washes dishes but does not cook. They do the cooking and since we’ve been here they fix foreign meals which are very welcome.

Our first meal was tea – about 4 o’clock Thursday – then at supper about 6:45 we had quite a feast. Only the 5 of us were here. Miss Cribb gave me a big tin of “biscuits” (cookies) and the Asahimas a silk furoshiki and a calendar. Yesterday at teatime there was a Jap. Bible, song book and hymn book for us both. Lovely Bibles – so now I must learn to read (all in character writing).

Went into Kobe and saw Aunt Effe yesterday at the Canadian Academy where she stays – had lunch there and a nice visit with her.

Tomorrow we go to see our house in Sanda. Miss Cribb rented it (only 20 yen a month [$10]) and a brand new house! Tomorrow night there will be a welcome meeting in the Sanda church for us. We had one here at Dembo last night. Both of us spoke (I by interpretation – Watson in Japanese.) Then Tues. we go to Kaibara to see what furniture we need and we’ll be moved in, the Lord willing, by Friday – we’ll both be glad.

I’d love to see you. Miss Cribb thinks you were so good to let me come so soon and she’s told the Japanese about you. Maybe someday you’ll get to come and see us here. Kiss my loved ones for me and please write. This news is for all of you of course – for postage is too much to write to all at the same time.

Love from us both – and kisses –                               Mary

Note: Second letter from Japan, first from Watson

Miwacho, Arima Gun, Hyogo Ken, Japan
Monday March 24, 1930

Dear Elsie and Perc,

It is over five weeks now since we parted from you at the Union Station in St. Louis, five weeks full of new and interesting experiences. I enjoyed every bit of the trip except the first three days out of San Francisco.

We received a rather cool welcome at Yokohama after leaving warm weather all the way from home, and to cap it all, the whole ships crew went ashore and left us to freeze (almost) for 2 days. It was not quite so cold when we arrived in Kobe but it was a rather damp morning.  Through some misinformation as to the time of the ships arrival, Miss Cribb did not meet the ship, but Aunt Effe was on the pier as we pulled in. At about 12:00 o’clock Miss Cribb and a group of 12 or 13 Christians from Dembo and Sanda came and found us at the customs house. We had lunch together then I went back to get the trunks, etc., examined, after which we went to Dembo, a part of Osaka, just about 18 or 20 miles from Kobe.

Our stay in Osaka was most delightful. We did almost nothing but sleep, eat and talk: Breakfast at 9 A.M. talking around the table till almost 10:30 or 11. Lunch was served at 12 and we usually got up from the table about 1:30 or so, only to sit down for tea again at about 3 o’clock with dinner at 6 and a bit before going to bed – and what food – but I suppose you heard all about it from Mary’s letters.

Well, Sat. night we were given a reception at Dembo, and Mary spoke, Miss Cribb interpreting, I was then asked to say a few words in Japanese. With some prompting from the sidelines, I got through. Sunday morning I spoke at the service by interpretation, the Lord giving me great freedom in speaking on Num. 23:21 – “The God who hath not seen our iniquities when they are confessed and forgiven.” It also pleased the Lord that one lady who has been in darkness for some time found rest from the message – my first in Japan.

Monday night we came to Sanda to a welcome meeting and also to look at our house which they had engaged for us. The house has just been built and is located on the bank of the river with rice fields to the east and north and a few houses to the west. We have six rooms, a kitchen, pantry and “entry way”. The upstairs rooms are arranged very nicely and are light and airy. I hope they will be cool this summer. At the top of the next page I’ll try to draw a little diagram of the house. We have no bathroom so we have put a bathtub in the kitchen and we use the top as a table.

The plans.

The kitchen, pantry & entry way (where we take off our shoes) are on a level with the street. The rest of the first floor is raised about 2 feet. Our bedroom is really 12 x 15 feet because the dotted lines denote a part of the room raised a few inches above the rest – the place of honor for guests. Then too, our closet is so large, we have put a chest of drawers into it and still have room to hang up our clothes.

We expect to use my room for the guest room when we have guests. So far we have no piano but I hope we can go to Kobe on Wed. and see about getting one. Of course it will not be a Stienway (sic) but it will do for a missionary and most likely it will just about fit in with the rest of our furniture which is rather old but serviceable.

Thursday A.M.

Well here it is Thursday and still this letter has not been mailed. I’m very sorry but we have been so busy. At 8:30 Monday night a young girl came and visited us and stayed till 10 o’clock. Of course we could do nothing but just sit and try to entertain her; therefore this letter is yet unfinished.

Yesterday we went to Kobe and spent $15.00 on groceries. Campbell’s soup costs 20 cents a can, and everything else in the line of American canned goods is proportionately expensive. We bought a can of carnation milk (#8 cans) for 12.75 yen ($6.37 1/2), about 13 1/2 cents a piece which is the cheapest price in town. We also saw the piano which we are going to have. It is being sent up now. The measurements are – length - 4 feet; height – 3 ft. 9 inches. If Perc were only here, we could pick it up and carry it up here between us. As it is we have to pay about 10 yen ($5) to have it crated and shipped up here. Of course we would like to have a better one but it will do for the time being.

Mary has not been at all well since reaching Japan, but she is feeling much better now. Everything is so strange to her as yet, and she has head-aches most of the time from hearing so much Japanese. She is out shopping now with the girl who comes to help with the housework.

We are going to try to write once a week to each family, so you might pass this on to the other Gash’s and when we write to them we’ll ask them to let you read the letter also. You see we are trying to save time, ink, paper and postage.

Love to all the folks,                 Watson

Note: Third letter home? Not marked

March 31, 1930

Dear Chas. & Madeline:

I’m going to try and write one letter a week “home” to the family and Watson and I will alternate between the 2 families. We’ll try to write to you two, then Mama, then Alice & Ralph, then you – etc.

Right now I am on the train going to Osaka, so please excuse all scribbles, etc. We are riding 3d class and it’s about as uncomfortable as anything I’ve ever ridden in. However, it’s a lovely day, and as we’re traveling thru the mountains it’s really beautiful.

Our house is very nice. Brand new – and we can see the mountains in every direction. Of course, we don’t have many conveniences. No bathroom, no lights in the daytime, no water in the home (it must be carried from a nearby river), and no gas with which to cook. (Just now we are passing quite a few cherry trees in bloom – they’re lovely.) Miss Cribb, the head of our little mission (“little”, for there are just 6 of us in it) gave us a one-burner kerosene stove and an oven to go on top of it. Besides it, we have a Japanese schichirin – a little clay box in which we burn charcoal (sumi) and with these two we cook. I made a very good cake last week, and just this morning, some nice muffins, so you see, we’re eating quite fine! A girl comes for 3 hours every morning except Sunday, and cleans the house, goes to the store, etc. Watson has to give all the orders, for as yet I’ve not started studying the language. Imagine – he and I are the only “foreigners” in our town of about 8,000 – and in quite a bit of surrounding territory. I can’t talk much!

We have a tiny piano now which used to belong to the Thorntons – and it’s quite a bit of company. I play a little Japanese organ at the services, for only Miss Cribb and I can play, and she takes charge of most of the meetings. Watson has preached twice, but by interpretation – and twice he spoke in Japanese. I spoke twice by interpretation.

The Japanese have a habit of coming to visit you most anytime of the day and staying on and on! We show them everything in the house. Everyone is interested in our bedding (they sleep on the floor on futon), Watson’s tools (you know, Mama gave him Papa’s and he’s certainly using them!) and our dishes and utensils. The egg beater is a special attraction. Nearly all the things we eat are unknown to them. In fact we have to buy nearly all our food in Kobe (and it’s quite expensive). But if you would once see some of the things they eat, you wouldn’t blame me for not being able to eat them. I really hope to some day tho’, for when anyone entertains us, it would be very bad not to eat what was put before us. Watson likes their food – but I, not as yet!

I trust you both are well and happy in your new home. Remember me to all the McGaws.

The way the Japanese women fix their hair is terrible, I think. The Christians fix it like we do (i.e. in a single knot at the back, and it looks very nice that way). Their kimona are all attractive – and I’m still not used to the clattering of their wooden geta (gay ta). The babies are all carried on the backs. Even little boys carry the babies – and I saw one the other day fighting with another boy – and the little one bouncing around!

Will close – will you send this home?

Much love – Mary

Note: fourth letter home

April 15, 1930

Dear Alice & Ralph:

I believe it’s my turn to write to you two. I’ll not promise anything about the looks of the letter, as Watson and I are on the electric car, and just now have started towards Kobe. It’s an hour’s run, and a beautiful one. Lovely hills and mountains, a river, trees, rice fields, etc. We both feel that the Lord has been especially good to us in putting us in Sanda – for we’re surrounded by lovely scenery. And really, while there are quite a few bad smells – the nice part more than makes up for them.

You know how I love fresh flowers – and ever since we’ve been here, we’ve had quite a lot of them in the house. Right now at home we have a large vase full of cherry blossoms (they’re about gone now, i.e. the cherry blossom season has passed) a lot of lovely red flowers called (like poppies), some purple azalea, and some bright yellow flowers. The Christians bring them to us; last night one of them, (who is not a settled Christian) a girl of about 16, came with the red flowers and then had Watson help her translate her English lesson! I wish you’d pray for this girl. Her name is Kotanisan (pr. Ko-tan-e-san). Her mother is (so I’ve heard) about as wicked a woman as there is in Sanda, and she is likely to be dragged into the same sort of life unless the Lord saves her. Because of persecution at home and at school, she stops coming to the Dendo-Kan (church). So you might pray for, and ask prayer for her.

One of the things we’re going to look at in Kobe is a new mattress. The one on our bed is very old and we fear it may contain bed bugs! I’ve been (almost) literally covered with some kind of bites and we’ve not been able to find out what they are. It’s either just my blood, or it might be the poison from the lacquer tree (as we took a walk up one of the hills the other day & possibly I might have brushed by one [a tree]) or it’s b.b.

We had to have something to put dishes in, in the dining room, so we bought what the Japanese call a miguya. A beautiful cabinet made of polished, stained wood, with 6 drawers and 5 shelves in it. One of the shelves has wire netting inside the wooden framework of the door, and in that we put edibles so the rats and flies won’t bother things. My! I think it’s so nice (much nicer than either of the ones we had at home) for we have so much room, and so much light, etc. Being missionaries so far, and I’m sure it will be the same for always, has been fine. Now don’t think we don’t miss our loved ones – etc. but then, we wouldn’t want not to miss you!

Kiss the baby for me. (A man across the aisle just sneezed quite loudly, and it reminded me of mama!!!)

It’s been raining fairly hard ever since last evening – so I’ve my raincoat on, & my rubbers. I brought the latter (toe-rubbers) in San Francisco. Watson accidentally brought his father’s from home – and so hasn’t any on! By the way, I’ve got oodles of clothes (as things go in Sanda) and I’m trying hard to look nice, and not become “dowdy”. Of course, underneath I may not have so much “it” (as woolen underwear doesn’t lend itself to such things) but I try to look beautiful on top.

A non-Christian schoolgirl came and wanted to know if we would have an English conversation class for some of them. We’re praying about it – and the Lord willing, on Sat. aft. maybe I can have a Bible class of some kind. That is, have conversation about different passages of Scripture, in that way bringing the Gospel to them.

One of the Christians, Inouesa… (undecipherable), went up to Tokyo to a University last night, and some of us saw him off. He is about 19 or 20, and seems real sincere. Pray that he will be a witness for Christ up there and that he may be strengthened.

During Easter week, the workers of the Osaka Mission are going up to Arima (a hot springs resort) for 2 or 3 days meeting. We will pray, and talk, and plan about the work, etc. There will be 9 of us in all – Toukinsan, Inamurasan, the Asahimas, Miss Cribb, another Jap. and his wife (who are coming here to Sanda to work with us) and ourselves. We will stay at the hotel there. I pray the Lord will bless us there.

I’m praying for Mrs. G…., etc. so glad about them.

I’ve made 2 of the best cakes, and biscuits that melt in your mouth! (canned milk & Crisco) Come over!

Much, much love to you both & Mama & Elsie & Perc. Remember me to Elvira – (got Dorothy Buttergen’s letter) & and all rest.


Sanda, Hyogo Ken

April 29, 1930

Dear Mother Gash,

Monday has passed and I haven’t written my weekly letter to America. Mary asked me to write to you this week as it is my turn to write to the Gash side of the combination.

To begin with, we are both alive and are both being greatly blessed of the Lord. The Lord has seemed especially to have given Mary strength and health these past few weeks. For the first three weeks after arriving here she was very unwell in body and was in bed quite a bit. It, of course, put quite a burden on me and I became irritable and snappy at her – it wasn’t her fault and I knew it but you know how it is. Well, I finally began to feel that it was of the devil, and one night about 3 weeks ago, I came into my room and told the Lord that I couldn’t go on as it was, and that He would either have to strengthen Mary or give me more Grace. He did both, I believe, and since then Mary has not been in bed one day that I can think of, and she has been getting up almost every morning at 7 o’clock for her devotional hour.

We went to Kobe yesterday for the first time in almost a month. We had been to Osaka once or twice and we went to Kaibara for a day, but Mary does not seem to mind not seeing any new white faces. I think it is quite remarkable that she can bear it as she does. It is very difficult to go day after day with no one to speak to, or to look at beside a rather silent and self-centered husband, especially when you can’t understand what he is saying whenever anyone comes to the house: and wherever you are people are jabbering in a strange language – even the hymns are not understandable. She is a plucky little girl all right. She is now downstairs singing now.

She has not started any definite study yet but we hope she can be at it by next week sometime with a teacher. I don’t try to teach her because I have too much to learn myself. In Japanese there are 2 words almost alike “Mada” and “mata”, the first means “yet” and the second “again” and I have been telling people to “come yet” instead of “come again”. Then too, “hashi” may mean any one of three things – a bridge, a pair of chopsticks, or the side or end of a flat surface. The difference is in the pronunciation and is so slight that I can hardly detect it, let alone say it. That is why I do not try to teach Mary.

As a housekeeper Mary is doing wonderfully. Our food bill this month is well under the 60.00 yen mark (ie., $30.00) which we had set for ourselves, and with fresh vegetables coming in now, we expect it will be cheaper yet. We heard this A.M. that lettuce is now selling for about 2 sen (1 cent) a head, for nice large firm heads. Tomatoes are now selling for about 12 cents a pound and of course will be much cheaper later on. Mary says she wants to put up some strawberries, peaches and tomatoes this summer.

This past week has been quite busy. The younger brother of the man who teaches me Japanese has been dying of tuberculosis in the hospital near us. He is only about 21 years old, but the past few days has been unable to eat anything and this A.M. at 9:30 A.M. the Lord took him home.  For a while we were somewhat troubled about his salvation but a little over a week ago he confessed his faith in the cross of Calvary and from then on he was full of praise and testimony to the Lord.

Wed. Apr. 30

Just at this point they came and called me, so I went over to the hospital to see if I could be of any assistance and have been busy ever since.

A Japanese funeral is quite unique. The relatives of the deceased do the whole thing. The coffin was a box made of unfinished pine lumber 3 ft. long, two feet high and 13 ½ inches wide. The body is washed and placed in the box on cushions in a sitting position, and in heathen ceremonies food, etc., is placed in with him. In this case the boy’s New Testament and a few flowers were the only things included in the coffin. On account of the disease the doctor requested that the body be cremated, so last night we went with the family to the crematory which is located up on a hill about a mile and a half out of town. It was indeed an interesting experience. We carried lighted lanterns and walked out the pitch black road then up a winding path to the building prepared for the services. We had a short service of prayer and scripture then went on to the “oven”. After much pushing and arranging, the coffin was pushed into the “oven”, the door closed, and locked and the eldest brother – the head of the house – lit the fire. We came home then leaving an old man to keep the fire going. I suppose we will never forget the experience of walking through the graveyard, with the grave stones on each side of the path, so close together that it would be hard to walk between them, reflecting the light of the lanterns. It was a beautiful sight.

The funeral is to be this afternoon at 4 o’clock from the mission hall.

We are enclosing a slip of blue paper which is of no use to us, but it may be of some use to you. We can’t do much, but we wish we could do more. The Lord has graciously undertaken for our support, and I see by the last “Tidings” to reach us, that we have been placed upon Hope’s missionary list. It is an honour.

May the Lord bless you, Mother, and use you abundantly. Of course Mary sends her love with mine.

Affectionately your “boy-in-law”


Written on Osaka Mission letterhead as below:

Dear Friends:

We want to let you know of two things which have happened during the past few days. They will give you an idea of conditions here where we are working.

The gods in Japan, which are many, are grouped in various classes ranging from the lower to the higher. A god in the Miwa temple was elevated to a higher rank the day before yesterday. A great celebration (including much saki drinking, of course) was the order of the day but it was decided to rather celebrate in a quiet and more simple manner. The reason being that not enough money was available – the debt incurred by the building of the new temple hasn’t yet been paid. However, a crowd of men had quite a jolly time of it in a house just across the field from our house. We heard singing and shouting (there’s little difference between the two), the sound of one or two Japanese musical instruments, and dancing all afternoon. Then in the evening some geisha arrived, and the doors were shut. All in the name of religion! Thank God, our Father is, and always has been, greater than all gods for there is no God beside Him.

If only these people knew it! Of course, some do but seemingly do not care. For instance, the priest at this same temple has a daughter whose mind was cleared and who was converted by our Lord. Her father acknowledges that the Christian God did it, still he prefers to cling to Buddhism because that is the way he earns his living.

We’ve just witnessed a real testimony to the Lord, In the family of Kirita here in Sanda, as Christian, the youngest of 3 brothers was a T.B. patient in his uncle’s hospital. About a week ago his condition grew hopeless as both his lungs and stomach were affected and he could not eat, and could drink very little. In all his severe suffering, he witnessed of his Saviour. Tsukuisan, who was healed of T.B., was with him constantly the last few days, and Watson, Mr. Asahina, and Miss Cribb visited and prayed, etc. with him. He died the day before yesterday, and as he had requested a Christian funeral, it was held yesterday at the dendo kan. The church was packed with both believers and non-believers, and we sang hymns, had prayer, and a message from Mr. Asahina. It is the first Christian funeral ever held here and we’re praying that it may bear fruit. Some of us had made a covering for the box – black, lined with white, with 4 red crosses on it, and it looked quite nice, with quite a few wreaths, etc., placed about the front of the room. One old lady, after the service, came and bowed and prayed before the remains. We were told that they believe that he has become a god!

I’m sure that you would love the people as we do if you were here among them. Pray that they may see the Light and be lighted by Him. We always remember all you Christians at home with a great deal of love and thanksgiving.

Very sincerely in Him,

                                                Mary and Watson Thornton

Sanda, Hyogo Ken, Japan

May 13, 1930

Dear Mother,

I started one letter but the “neck” of this family – I’m the head but the head is turned by the “neck” – decided for us that we had better not send that one but that I ought to write another one. You see, there has been a “pain in the neck” for the past few days and the neck has become rather stiff and inflexible.

I don’t mean that Mary is sick or anything but here nerves have been on edge for the past few days for some reason or other. However she hasn’t thrown me out of the house yet, and we always manages to go to sleep in fairly respectable humor. Really, though, the Lord has been very gracious to us all along. As I said in my last letter, it is not very easy for her to be left alone with me week after week and keep sweet, but the Lord has enabled her to do it.

Last Thursday, Aunt Effe came up from Kobe for the day and we had a nice time together. Miss Cribb was here to supper and we had roast chicken. It was a young hen, about 4 ½ lb, and we only had to pay 1.69 yen (or about 85 cents). It lasted for supper that night, sandwiches the next day for 7 people, supper for we two and the bones made a good soup for us the next night. Not bad at all. I tell you, Mary is getting to be some cook and manager.

Friday we went to Arima, a hot-springs resort about 12 miles from here, to attend the services of the Japan Evangelistic Band who were holding their annual conference. Mr. Wilkes, of whom father speaks quite often, spoke in the morning and Mr. Cuthbertson in the afternoon. There were from 300 to 400 people present and it was a new experience to Mary to be at such a convention. I tried to translate the messages as much as possible and she seemed to get the general thought both A.M. and P.M.

The thing that troubled Mary most was the praying. They sang a couple of hymns then had a few prayers before the message. Of course it was all in Japanese and it tired her some. After the message two or three people led in prayer but as the time was short the leader said for all to pray at once. Immediately, all over the room, they began to pray out loud. The more emotional ones clapping their hands as they prayed at the top of their voices. Others prayed silently; some rocked back and forth; one fellow looked like he was having a hard time convincing the man in front of him on some special point. I do not mean to make light of such things but the noise was quite bad with the babel of men’s and women’s voices, and it got on Mary’s nerves to quite an extent.

In the afternoon we had tea with the J.E.B. members and had a very nice time. Mary seemed to like Miss Smith quite a bit, but she says that they are so different from Americans that she does not feel free with them. They are all English.

We did not go up again on Saturday as we had quite a bit to do here at home, and Mary had had enough of Japanese conventions for a few days. I was quite tired myself from the walking and all in Arima.

Miss Cribb was here on Sunday for the last time as the Japanese worker is coming up here this week. Tonight we are having a welcome meeting for him, and then we all go up to Arima for a couple of days, D.V. for prayer and conference on the work.

We are both learning some Japanese. Mary can give some directions to the girl who helps in the house and once in a while can catch a word in the sermons, etc. I have been neglecting my study the past few weeks, but I have a bible class for young men every week in Japanese and it gives me good practice in speaking the kind of language I’ll need in preaching.

Today I wanted to get a map of the district so went to the bookstore and asked for a “choshi”, which means “a pitcher to hold sake” (the Japanese liquor), instead of “chiyu” which means “map”. She looked at me rather funny, then I explained what I wanted. Oh, well! It’s all in the life. I think my greatest trial will be ducking my head for the doors and sitting on the floor. I crack my head quite often now, and my knees “pop” and “snap” every time I sit down or stand up Japanese fashion.

Lots of love to all of you,


Tuesday P.M.

(Based on content, estimate date to be May 20, 1930.)

Lots of scribbles in this letter – please pardon them.

Dearest Mother:

Seems a long time since I wrote you – two weeks I believe. But I think of you all the time. Wish St. Louis was a little nearer! Dear Mother, I know it’s hard for you, missing Papa so much. We remember you every day in prayers, as well as in our private devotions. I haven’t told you before, but I’ve dreamt so often of Papa, etc. and wake up in the night thinking of him. I wish I could be there, and with Ralph Page, put my arms around your neck. I love you so. I’m so glad that Alice and Ralph have you with them for you’ll all help each other I know.

I got Alice’s two letters written the 23d and 28th, with yours enclosed in the former, on Sunday (May 18). My! But I was glad, and Watson too, to get letters. One also came from Father Thornton. I read them in church, during the sermon. Do hope that you’re feeling better now. Seems that you’ve had to take so much medicine during these later years – I wish the Lord would heal you. Have you ever asked Him for definite healing? I know the Lord does heal, and one doesn’t have to wait until he’s dying to be healed, either. We are praying along that line. Ask Alice and Ralph, and the others, to join us. As Miss Cribb says, it’s much easier to trust the Lord and not take nasty medicine! The two don’t go together, of course.

By the way – Alice always puts 6 cents on her letters, you know, they need only 5 cents.

Got a letter form Mrs. Billings today, also one from Edna Asher. We grab our mail with gusto, I assure you. I wrote Mrs. Billings a short time ago and will write again. I owe Frank and Bertha a letter also.

Am sending by same mail a picture of the interior of a Jap. room. These are places of honor in nearly every Japanese house. In our living room we have just what you see in the center (with the white flowers in), called the tokemona. All guests are to be seated with their backs in this direction. We have a kakiemono (what you see hanging on the wall) ordered, which will have Matt. 11:28 in Japanese on it. In our big bedroom we have both a tokemona and what you see on the left of the picture – both of which take up the entire side of the room, as the 3 in the picture do.  In place of the 2 doors above, there are 4, and a lovely polished wood shelf, for vases, etc., instead of the box below. Our tokemona however, is hid from view by a curtain for in the honored place we have our wash stand, buckets, etc.! You see very well how the floors are all laid with tatami. Tell Alice we do not wear shoes in the house. You see how dirty the matting would get if we did. The white section at the left of this picture is a part of the sliding door. There are 4 such between nearly every room. In our house we have 43 sliding doors in all (not counting the windows) all of which are made the same way.

Alice, we are always just 15 hours ahead of you in St. Louis, so map it out! We pray for the Sunday night meetings at prayers on Monday morning.

17 of us were up at Arima, at a Japanese hotel for 2 ½ days for prayer, etc. about the work. Lovely country, right in the mountains. A regular little mountain stream running down the “back yard”, that could be heard at all hours. The hotel is build like this and the garden was on the mountain side, as it were, beautiful with trees, rocks, etc.

Up this A.M. for a prayer meeting at the kendo kan at 5 A.M.! I’m rather sleepy now. It’s about 9 P.M. and Watson’s got his chapter analysis class downstairs.

Much, much love. Kiss Ralph, Alice, R.P., Perc and Elsie for me.

Yours lovingly, tenderly, Mary Scott

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