Thursday, May 13, 2010

Life in Tzung-en

Tzung-en is a very warm place, even in the winter time. We lived in a military compound, specifically an artillery base. My uncle, Yauyau, came to Taiwan to accept this military station from the Japanese, who surrendered in 1945. By the time we arrived here in late 1948, he was well established. This artillery station was designed to protect the Kaohsiung harbor. The compound had quite a bit of land with fruit trees, and quite a bit cultivated land which was leased out by famers to grow peanuts, corn and other plants. My uncle's home was a simple building with two floors. The family lived upstairs with a stairway right in the front of the building. We had a room downstairs and my uncle built on the side of this room an attached frame-building with another room and a kitchen so that we could live independently. Our daily rice came from the military distribution. There was a garden just next to the house maintained by an old soldier who planted quite a number of common vegetables, such as green beans, egg plants and Chinese greens. As you can see, our basic needs were supported pretty well.

The hardest task for my Mother was to go outside to wash our cloths on a concrete slab with one single cold water spigot. Generally, that is also the place where my Mom got her report s about how the "internal war" in China was progressing. During that period, the reports were ALL bad. First the communists went into Beijing, then they won the battles along the way south and moved quickly into Hsuchou (俆州). Then, to our surprise, Nanking came under communist rule very, very quickly. Where was Father? Did he get out? Was it possible for him to get out? When the fall of Nanking was reported to Mom, she slipped in the washing area on the concrete floor, as she was trying to figure out how was she going to live with four young kids without a father. We had no news about Father for the next four months. However, we heard plenty of rumors. Shanghai was gone?!, inflation was 300 percent, Chang-Kai-shek had resigned.

Without a word, suddenly my Father showed up in the front of our building four months later. He had gotten on the last plane to leave Nanking. The plane's wheel was shot by the communists as it took off but It landed safely in HongKong. Of course he had no way to let us know, as there was no mail service, no telegram or phone services during the period. From HongKong he got on a Navy ship to get to Kaohsiung. This is a typical story from that time!

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