"Dwarf Potted Trees"
from Glimpses of Mexico and California by Mrs. S. M. Lee

        Mrs. S.M. Lee (<1838-?)  "These letters, written in the haste of travel, and with no thought of publication, are printed in the hope that an account of what I saw in old México and new California in 1886 may prove as interesting to the next generation as the incidents of a journey I took to the Mississippi River in 1838 have always been to my own children."
The first letter is dated Feb. 13, 1886 Chicago, IL; the last May 7, Niagara Falls, NY.  Salt Lake City and Colorado Springs and Denver were visited after San Francisco, before she returned back to the East Coast. 1

       Glimpses of Mexico and California by Mrs. S. M. Lee (1887):

      "Monday evening [April 12, a week previous to April 20, 1886, the date of this letter from San Francisco] we went, with the customary private detective as guide, to see the curious mode of life in the famous 'Chinatown,' where within a few blocks the thirty thousand Celestials swarm like bees in a hive, and are so neat, tidy, and orderly, that most nations might take a lesson from them.  In the common restaurants they were eating with chopsticks, very adroitly managed, and the food there, and in the provision shops, was most unlike anything American.  Dried oysters strung on cane hoops, ducks and geese preserved in oil and then dried, squids dried and flattened, eggs encased in mud, the older the better, large crates of tiny live quail, also a tank of black, queer-looking live turtles, and another of huge eels, a hundred heads appearing out of the water as the light was held over them.  All these things, as well as great varieties of dried fruits and sweetmeats, are brought from China.  The grand restaurant where the Chinese minister was feted, was the most elegant of all, with carved teakwood tables and chairs, and gorgeous paintings, lanterns and decorations; the balcony filled with dwarf trees; one cypress only two feet high was twenty-five years old.  Here we drank delicious tea from eggshell cups, served with lychee nuts and sweetmeats after their peculiar custom." 


1     Lee, S.M.  Glimpses of Mexico and California (Boston: George H. Ellis; 1887), Preface, pg. 5.

2     Lee, pg. 100.

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