Sunday, April 26, 2020

Hart Island reminded me about Another sad Story

I talked about two of my siblings who passed away as very young children in this blog on Oct.10, 2019. Today, I will talk about one of them. This morning we heard a story on the CBS Sunday Morning Program which made me think of her. The story describes Hart Island, which is the burial ground for all the people who have died nameless in New York City hospitals, when the doctors could not save them.   The story focused on a lady who lost her daughter as an infant during a major snow storm. The child died of a heart problem and the lady could not get to the hospital because of the storm. The hospital sent the child to Hart Island but only told her mother she was sent to a NYC burial ground. It was only recently, after 25 years, that her mother learned the name of Hart Island. Unfortunately, there are no grave markers there.

This reminded me of a sad story in my own life. I had a sister who died in ZuoYing (Taiwan) in late 1949 or early 1950. She had an infection and we could not get any medicine for her. I was ten at the time and we had recently arrived in Taiwan after fleeing from the Communists in mainland China. I remember the scene vividly. Our family, including myself and my eight-year-old brother, Dean, went to her burial "get-together". The hole for her casket had already been dug. My mother was crying loudly and my dead sister had been placed on some kind of board near the hole. My father asked us to bow and say good bye to her, which we did. Then we were asked to run away. Later I found out that my parents were waiting for a burial casket, as the first one purchased was too small.  My uncle (my mother's brother) went to have another one made by some of his soldiers at the station. Later, I found her burial place covered with a small pile of dirt. When we went back to Zuo-Ying in 1969, I remember that we went there to look for her grave. But, I could no long find that pile of dirt - the whole area had been built up with new roads and everything was changed. The picture that I had in my mind was no long there!!

The only pictures I have of this sister were cut from some of my group pictures!


Sunday, March 15, 2020

My Connection with UI (University of Illinois)

My connections with the University of Illinois really defined my life, although it is certainly late to mention it at this stage of my blog! Primarily it is because I took this fact for granted and I did not feel it's importance until I was recently thinking about it!
I went to the University of Illinois, specifically the Chemistry Department, mainly because the President of National Taiwan University, Chiang S-Ning, received his Doctoral Degree from that University. He was frequently involved with the Chemistry Department in Taiwan personally. The picture below was taken in 1961 when we graduated. We had a dinner to thank our teachers and he was there, sitting in the front row,  fourth from the right:

 And most inmportantly, he wrote a recommendation letter for me! Later, when I went to ETSU, it turned out that the chair of the Chemistry Department,  Dr. D G Nicolson, was also a graduate from Illinois. He was the one who later offered me a position at ETSU at the time when I was teaching at the University of Kentucky. He not only taught me but he also hired me back to the University, to which he had dedicated his whole life! The following picture was taken in 1978.

Finally, and most importantly, I met Janice, my wife there. You all know that part of my story, you just do not realize how important a simple folk dance could start the life story of two people from the other ends of the world!

Sunday, January 19, 2020

More about my high school teachers

I finally found a few pictures of my "ChengGu" High School teachers who were very important for my education. They were all female teachers. The top four teachers all taught me mathematics, chemistry and physics. The fifth teacher was one I did not have in class. I do not know who wrote on my school books (the banners in yellow). He was trying to identify who taught what. Below are some pictures from my yearbook, some of which include students in their classes!

They were our favorite teachers, including one who even brought her daughter to take a picture with the best students in her classes! All the teachers names are printed in the book! You certainly could see that taking pictures were a very serious business matter, we were ALL in our uniforms with our hats on! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

"Bridge" is more than just a game!

During our first year in East Tennessee a group of eight women, mostly wives of new faculty members at the University, decided to form a "bridge" group to meet one night a week, so that they could share their experiences. Who could imagine that this group would continue for nearly fifty years, as of today! (Two of the original members left in the early years, as their husbands accepted positions at other schools.) The women certainly shared a lot of stories about raising their children, about the the frustrations of not having family living near-by, and, of course, about their husbands!  "Bridge" may have been their starting point, but everything in their lives was shared, one way or another. From new born babies, boys and girls, their children's marriages, and their grandchildren, to the death of beloved family members, every part of life was included in many different ways. Sadly, one passed away recently because of illness. And, two members have lost their husbands, which has affected all of them greatly. I have chosen four pictures to give you a glimpses of this amazing group!

This is one of the first pictures of the group:
Yes, they were very young!

The second picture was taken slightly later, showing the eight members who belonged to the group for the last 40-some years:
This is a more recent picture, taken a long time after 1971! The husbands frequently joined the group to celebrate the holidays!
This most recent picture was taken in January 2020. A new member was added for the first time since Janice and I moved out of the East Tennessee area.


Monday, October 28, 2019

Achievements by My Siblings

As a result of the deaths of my two siblings, my family was divided into two groups which were about a decade apart. Dean and I were in the first group, while Edmund and Kai formed the second.  Our move to Taiwan after the communists occupied mainland China in 1948, affected the older group quite a bit. For one thing, we were very poor for a few years after the move. Dean and I shared those experiences and hardships. However, the family conditions, both financial and environmental, improved quite a bit by the time our 2 younger siblings were old enough to notice them. So my parents raised two groups of siblings, with very different conditions, a decade apart. But, amazingly, in the long run, there were some common results which nobody could have predicted. Let me tell you the story.

It was very difficult to enter National Taiwan University during that time, especially as it was considered the best university on the island. An applicant for college was required to take an Entrance Exam which covered 6 different subjects and lasted for 2 days. Only the people with the highest total grades could be admitted to the department of their choice in the university of their choice. It was very fair; even the grandson of Chiang Kai-Shek could not get into any university.  When I graduated from Cheng-Gong-high school in 1957, I was given the chance to go to another University without having to take the Entrance Exam. However, I decided to take the exam and believe it or not I was admitted to the Chemistry Department of National Taiwan University(NTU). Two years later, Dean passed the Exam to be admitted to the Chemical Engineering Department at NTU.  Ed graduated from high school in 1966 and he was admitted to the Chemical Engineering Department of NTU. There was then plenty of pressure for Kai in 1968 when she took the college Entrance Exam. She did pass the Exam and was admitted to the NTU Biochemistry Department. All four of us Huang Siblings got into NTU Chemistry-related Departments. You could say this was "lucky" or that it represented major accomplishments!

Another Chapter of our accomplishments is summarized below:
       Thomas Huang, PhD, University of Illinois
       Dean Huang,      PhD, University of Illinois
       Edmund Huang  PhD, Iowa State University
       Christina Huang PhD, University of Kentucky

So we all four got PhDs from Four Universities in the USA in Chemistry-related fields!

Our pictures are collected below:
  most recent

  a decade ago


Saturday, October 26, 2019

Extra Ordinary Events

There are always very extra ordinary events which occur for an ordinary Chinese! For me, there were quite a number of them and it is time now for me to describe some of them in more detail, so that they will not be forgotten. In my last blog, I mentioned that I had two siblings who both passed away during the year and a half period when we were trying to escape from the communist invasion. I am now going to add, in this blog, some details about them and about our lives during that time -  especially since I found another, better picture which was taken during that time and which has inspired me to tell more about ALL that I remember. This picture is below:
          A family picture taken in Nanking in 1947 at a famous resort area near Jiming Temple

Pictured, in addition to my parents, are myself, my second brother, Dean, our two younger siblings, and my older cousin Fusan Je. I was able to extract a better version of this picture which shows these two siblings  more clearly:
My mother was holding the boy and Fusan Je was holding the sister. This is the only picture I have with their faces exposed!

At the end of the year 1948, our family took a boat to Taiwan. Our plan was to return "home" to Hubei after we visited my mother's brother, who had been assigned to Taiwan as part of the force that took over the island afer the Japanese had been defeated. (We assumed that the communist movement would diminish and peace would return to China.) However, shortly before we left, my younger brother died as a result of a re-occuring disease of the stomach called "intussusception", which was recognized too late for the doctors to operate. Before he became sick, he had been a very active baby!

Fusan Je was in Medical School at that time so she did not go to Taiwan with us. My father went back to Nanking to work, after we had arrived and been settled at the home of my uncle in TzoIn, Taiwan. Less than a year later, my sister also died. She was less than 6 years old. She had what started as a lung infection, which then spread to her brain and other places. She could have been cured by antibiotics, but there was no medicine available. When I went to her "funeral", she was lying on the ground beside the hole which had been dug for her, because the coffin which had been bought was too small. I remembered the funny feeling I had. I was not sad, not happy, but it affected me a great deal - now more than ever before!

I did not see Fusan Je again until I was a visiting professor in Wuhan University in 1985, which was
close to twenty eight years later. She was then a physician in Shangtong, China. and she remembered the boy's death vividly when I talked with her about him!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

I once had two more siblings!

Up to this point, I have not mentioned anywhere that I had two additional siblings. They both died before I was ten, and I really do not remember them very well. Just a couple of days ago I found a picture which I took at my cousin's Taiwan home at 2011. It is a copy of one in their family album. I realized that both of those siblings were present in this family picture taken in Nanking, most likely in 1947! And this may be the only picture ever taken of the boy, born in 1946, who died before we left Nanking and moved to Taiwan in 1948. His image is not clear in the picture, but I could recognize him. He is in front of my father. I was the oldest boy in the front row of children, first from the right side. The sister who died in 1949 was next to me and in front of my mother. The boy next to her is my brother (now called Dean). The four adult men standing were my four cousins with the oldest in the center of picture. The center one of the three adult women standing is Xiaoji, sister of the four brothers. The other two were wives of the male cousins. And I am not at all sure about the identity of the two young girls in front on the left side.
 The picture below was taken in Nanking with two of mother's relatives. Hwei Ge (on the left) was the daughter of one of my mother's sisters, and Fu San Je (on the right) was the daughter of another sister. My mother was helping to raise both girls. The child is my younger sister who died in Kaoshung shortly after we arrived in Taiwan, because of the lack of medicine to cure her infection, My mother felt that girls needed to stay together for one reason and the others, so they took this picture before they separated. (Hwei Ge moved to Taiwan with my parents and Fu San Je chose to stay in the mainland.)  :