Lucius Wilder Sabin played cornet in a Navy band; he served for years on the Richmond, a wooden steam sloop, flagship of the Asiatic Fleet. Between 1879-1881, the
through the ports of China, Japan and the , and the men played
various concerts throughout the area. Philippines
Lute wrote many letters home to his family in Boston...I’ve transcribed most of them, and am fascinated by his descriptions of Shanghai—his reports of playing in the Public Gardens, at Grand Dinners, at private residences of notables in the city during that time.
This letter is one of my favorites: a letter Lute wrote to his younger sister, Ethel Sabin, my great-great aunt, who was about five or six years old in 1879...
Nov 9th 1879 China
Dear little Sister,
I promised to write to you again and I will do so now. I was very glad to get your letter sometime ago and I said I would answer it right off but I have waited a long time.
I went into the old Chinese City the other day and saw some funny things there the little Chinese girls dont wear any dresses they have a little sack and little pants their heads are shaved and all the hair they have got is two little tails over their ears and they look funny enough. I went into the Prison and saw some very bad men with great big chains on them and they were all dirty, and looked very bad. I guess you would not like to see them. I saw some pretty toys & playthings for little boys and girls and when I come home I will bring you some of them...
...it is most a year since I enlisted and left
I guess I will be home in about a year and a half more. I want to see you and
Mother & Father and Brother and Sister very much and you must write to me
& tell me all about them... Boston
Write Soon to
Your Absent Brother