— George’s Shanghai ~ 1933-1937

[November 26, 1933 – November 11, 1937]

Twelve days after arriving from Tsingtao, George was working at the Dutch Village Inn, a restaurant situated at 719-721 Bubbling Well Road, opposite the International Recreation Club.

1937 Feb 8 -- George outside the Dutch Village Inn Click to enlarge

1937 Feb 8 — George outside the Dutch Village Inn (Click to enlarge)

It would seem he made a lot of friends and enjoyed fun times with his friends, which included going to the beach at Kao Chi’ao (Gaoqiao) .

Kao Chi’ao was a resort which opened on July 16, 1932. Shanghai has always had hot summers and for those who weren’t members of certain clubs which had pools didn’t have much choice where they could go to cool off.

Back in the early 1900s there was one public pool available on Sichuan Road North, near Hongkew (Hongkou) Park, and in 1922 another open-air pool opened on Jiangwan Road.  Neither were opened to the Chinese public so they had to cool off in the river; however in 1928 a pool in Hongkew was opened to include them.

Kao Chi’ao is situated in north-eastern Shanghai, where the Yangtze River meets the East China Sea. It has a beautiful beach with soft, white sand, and shallow waters which made for great paddling and swimming.

Back in the 1920s the Europeans discovered Kao Chi’ao but it wasn’t until 1932 that Wu Tiecheng, Mayor of Shanghai’s national government, instructed the company which ran the ferries to build a resort by the beach.

George & friends on the beach at Kao Chi'ao (Click to enlarge)

George & friends on the beach at Kao Chi’ao (Click to enlarge)

Kao Chi’ao was more than 20km from the centre of Shanghai with the Huangpoo (Huangpu) River separating it from the city.  The Shanghai Ferry Company had ferries running down the river during the summer months and when passengers disembarked, they got on a bus to Kao Chi’ao but there was still a long walk to get to the beach.

Two of George’s buddies (Click to enlarge)

A year later a road was built to connect the town to the beach and passengers could get a shuttle bus to take them right down to the water.  This meant it made Kao Chi’ao so much more accessible to people.  It took 90 minutes on the ferry from the Bund straight to the pier then caught a bus which got them to the beach within 20 minutes.

He was at the Dutch Village Inn for a year and then he worked at Fantasio, a dance hall. He obviously didn’t enjoy his stint there as he only played there for two weeks.  From what I found, the Fantasio was a dive where opium traffickers congregated and I know George would have felt extremely uncomfortable being in that place.

1934 map Shanghai

St George’s Hotel is marked Click to enlarge

George started at St George’s Hotel situated on Bubbling Well Road on November 16, 1934, but two months later went to work for a place called Jinx.  I’ve been unable to find out anything about the Jinx so at the moment am clueless as to what kind of place it was.

He only worked there for a month and then left. Four months later he returned to the St George’s Hotel.  This time around, at lunchtime he had a contract to play classical music over the radio. The program was called «George of St George’s» and he used to be called that by patrons of the night club when he played at night!

Jimmy James, the manager of the night club, was, according to George, a very decent man and he really enjoyed his time playing there.

1935 -- I think this was the day my father got his contract at St George's

1935 – I think this was the day my father got his contract at St George’s (Click to enlarge)

Jimmy James, was an American entrepreneur who stayed in China when his time in the Marines came to an end. Interestingly enough, he opened Jimmy’s Kitchen in Shanghai and then got a friend, Aaron Landau, to take the concept to Hong Kong. That restaurant was our favourite for family dinners when I was growing up!

It would have been just a few weeks later when George and Lila met. Apparently Lila went to the St George’s with friends one evening and George saw this young lady with beautiful brown eyes when she was dancing with her date at the time. He was instantly smitten and knew that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.

As they always celebrated July 4, 1935, as their anniversary, they must have met on that date so that would have been just 3 weeks into his present job.

Lila used to tell me how George used to wait for her to get off her bus after work and then follow her home through the cemetery. You couldn’t say he wasn’t persistent in his courtship – LOL!

George was very happy at St George’s but in 1936 he was offered a job at Farren’s night club and, as he said, the salary was too good to pass up so he left St George’s and moved there.

The night club was owned by Joe Farren, who was an Austrian dance exhibitionist who came to Shanghai in 1927. He first managed the chorus line at the Paramount but then decided to start his own club.

I’m not sure of the exact date that George started at Farren’s but in November 1937, he and Lila moved from Shanghai to Hong Kong.




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George in Shanghai

Photos of George during his time in Shanghai :)

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All About Shanghai – Nightlife  (Chapter 8)









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