Sunday, July 11, 2010
As people grow older they naturally have more memories. This is not a treasured gift possessed only by human beings. But since only human being possess another talent, to record what he or she remembers, the combination makes them unique, and powerful. This year is the 50th anniversary of when the book "To Kill a Mocking Bird" was published. Harper Lee put her remembrances into a story that resonates with the feelings of readers world-wide. The book became almost an instant "classic". Memory is more than history; the laughs and the tears of life are always mingled with the facts. The details of historic facts are important academically, but few people enjoy studying just the factual record.
I found the website for my primary school: http://web.laes.tp.edu.tw/index.phtml. It is all in Chinese, of course, and it is quite good. Apparently, some class pictures have been collected. Many individual pictures of past principals and yearly group pictures of faculty and staff have also been collected on the web. I got very excited about the chance to check my memory. Unfortunately, there is not one picture of my graduating class (1951). There is a picture of the principal of my year but I have no memory of that image at all!
The following is a picture of faculty and staff for the year 1950, one year before I graduated. The surprising thing is that there is only one single teacher that I could recognize in the picture. And he was the one who taught "Physical Education" class and punished the whole class once with a bamboo stick taken from a broom! It is clear that very few teachers at that time taught classes at different levels during the same year. The teachers who taught me followed our class for at least two or three years. Thus, since there is no picture of the '51 Class, I can find no pictures of my teachers on the web.
It was kind of funny to see the Class of '50 teachers lined up there to have their picture taken wearing mostly white colored clothes. In my memory, clothes have no color. I remember facial expressions but not colors. Do you remember what color clothes your mother wore when you were 12? Somehow, our memories have automatic switches to select what we remember. Most dreams are colorless, I was told. But how about memory? Have you asked yourself this question? Are all our memories facts or part of our imagination? I am not sure!