You will notice that I know very little about my Father’s earlier years. You are absolutely right. I cannot remember that my Father and I ever sat down and talked about something until after he moved to the USA in 1984. The only earlier memories I have are of me standing at the side of his desk and reporting on my progress in school or some other achievement. Hopefully, I will talk more about the relationship between my Father and me later in this blog. Even for what I write here today, the primary source was my Mother. I do not think that this is unusual in China.
There has always been a picture of my Fathers’ Father in our house. My Grandfather’s picture hung in my Father’s room when we were living in Tennessee. I am pretty sure that the relationship between my Father and his Father was quite similar to the one between my Father and me. That was the culture and the time.
My Father was born a farmer; at least they (his siblings and other relatives) lived on a farm and survived by working on the land. He tried to educate himself. His main job was taking care of a family water buffalo. After he passed his seventeenth birthday, the Elder Hu started a private school in the county. He was very lucky to be able to get in as a student helper. His formal education started then. In less than five years, he completed the equivalent of a high school education. In 1927, he was walking on the streets of Wuhan when he saw a sign asking qualified students to register for the entrance examination for the first class of the newly established National Chengchi University. He was attracted immediately by the small words at the bottom of the poster, describing that a free meal would be provided after the exam. For that meal, he took the exam, passed, and entered the university majoring in accounting. Again, Chengchi University provided everything, room and board, with stipends, until he graduated. There was a great job waiting for him as well, as this university was known as the Chiang family’s talent source. (Chiang Kai Shek was the prominent member of that family.) I have only one picture of my Father during that period, as my Father did not have many pictures taken during that time. When he started to work, he had the following picture taken: