Saturday, July 3, 2010

Girl Classmates

Primary schools were all co-educational during that period in the 1950's. As soon as one enters high school, all high schools, both junior and senior for a total of six years, became either all male or all female. It is clear that, right or wrong, the Chinese educational system was avoiding the problems generated by the growing-up years from 12 to 18, the exact period when human beings recognize the sex differences and when hormones are produced to stimulate other human needs. During the last two years of my primary school, it was clear that I started to recognize the male-female differences. I played with boys in all kinds of sports. The only time we encountered girls was in classrooms, and occasionally during swimming.

During that time, I tried swimming in a river nearby. It is called the Water-Source place (水源地). This is where Taipei City water came from. The water was then crystal clear; you could see small fish swimming everywhere. There was no place for changing clothes so we learned to change very quickly in public, using very small Chinese towels, which are about the size of one fifth of a regular western bath towel and much thinner. The beach was full of stones, which made walking difficult. I learned to swim there quickly, by watching others and talking with older swimmers. One girl classmate was a regular swimmer there. Her name was Xia Yu-drun (夏玉春). You can see in the picture below that she was under the sun quite a bit, as she was darker than most of the other girls. She noticed that I had to take off all my clothes to change into swim pants. So she made a swim pants for me so that I could slide up one side of the pants from one leg and button it up the other side of my hip, thus putting on swim pants without taking off the outside pants first. She was way ahead of us! 

There was no ceremony when we graduated from primary school. Almost everyone had a Memory book to circulate among his or her favorite friends and teachers to write a few words to remember this period in life. Sometimes a picture was exchanged. I kept another picture of a girl in my class; her name was Chen Yi (陈怡). She was our class beauty, who lived very close to my home. Her parents were very strict; we really did not have much communication of any kind. I do not know how many pictures she gave out when she graduated but it's clear that my mother kept everything including her picture here!

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