Monday, December 26, 2011

Peter E. Yankwich

My respected and beloved thesis director, Peter E. Yankwich, was my advisor beginning on the day when I arrived at Carter Hall on the University of Illinois campus in 1964. Since he was the chair of the Physical Chemistry Division at the time, he was the initial advisor for all students like me who declared a major in P-chem. He advised us before or until we made our choice of thesis director. He was a tall and distinguished-looking gentleman. In Taiwan, many of our “distinguished professors” were quite absent-minded. However, Dr. Yankwich did not give any trace of being such a faculty member!

At that time, to become a candidate for the PhD degree in Chemistry, you had to pass the so-called cumulative exams. The rule, at the time, was that you had to pass seven before you failed seven. There were three exams a semester. The material could come from any field in P-chem. The first semester was free, i. e. it would not count against against you if you failed in your first semester. Everyone was very nervous for a couple of years!

I decided to work for Yankwich in my second year, as I liked his Kinetic Isotope effect project, which required doing both experimental as well as theoretical work. I started learning, first, how to blow glass in order to build my vacuum line. Then I learned how to operate and maintain an isotope ratio mass spectrometer. Finally, I learned how to program in machine language, which was then FORTRAN language. That period turned out to be, for me, a very important two years of learning in my professional skills as a Physical chemist.

During the summer months for several years, Mrs. Yankwich, Betty, would ask us to stay in their home when they were away in CA or NC for their vacations. We certainly enjoyed the air conditioned rooms!

As you can see, he was the teacher and mentor who, perhaps more than anyone else, influenced me and provided me, as a foreign student, with a model of how to behave professionally.


Hu’s visit in Urbana

胡 秋 原,a famous writer of his time, and a very close friend of my father since they were young, came to Urbana, Illinois, to visit our home. His daughter, Susan, was studying there as a graduate student, too. We had earlier invited her for Thanksgiving dinner (see first picture).  Her father was one of the famous critics of Chiang’s government. Hu came from the same village as my father. His father started a private school in the village, and my father got the chance to enter that school at about the age of eighteen - thus escaping the poverty of that county. Father was there for about six years, finishing both primary and secondary school during that period. He later took the college entrance exam in Wuhan, and his success in passing that exam terminated his farm life in rural Huang-Pi county.thankgiving-1964

The next two pictures were taken when Hu came for a dinner prepared by Janice in our small apartment. He was on the right side, in the middle surrounded by other family

The  last picture was taken with Mrs. Hu who came later for a separate visit during Christmas time in 1968. Susan Hu was then married to Mike Hsu. Dean and Maria were in the picture too!xmas-68

Saturday, December 24, 2011

An old Christmas Picture!

On this Christmas Eve, I discovered a picture that was taken in 1959! on Christmas Eve!!! It could be the first picture of me singing in a Christmas Cantata at the Truth Lutheran Church. I was one of the Wisemen in this Christmas Story. Jesus’ mother’s voice was sung by Virginia Lau and her future husband, Henry, was the carpenter father. Miss Jones was in the front row, in a Chinese dress and the Norwegian missionary’s wife was the organ player, sorry that I forgot their names. The shepherds’ all had their staffs visible. Our outstanding choir director, Mr. Gao, was as usual not in the picture.xmas-1959

Bergstein in NY

While we were in NY City attending Jean and Sherman’s wedding, we went to visit the Bergsteins in Manhattan. They were the parents of Shari’s husband. At the time, Janice’s sister, Shari, and her family were just moving to live in Vermont. It was their choice of a place to live. We had not had a chance to get up there to see their place yet, and we saw her in-laws place first.beigstein-68-2beigstein-NY-68

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Chicago Trip

It turned out that Janice had some good friends in Chicago. While we were in Urbana, we drove up to visit them once. Jennifer Ketay was married at that time, living in a apartment on the lake front. That night Susan Evans was there with her husband and a boy. We had a great time together, talking about their Pembroke experience. Look how young they were!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Visitors on the Cape

Janice and her siblings grew up spending summers on Cape Cod. After we were married, we did not spent the whole summer there, but we still tried to visit for at least a couple of weeks, as our study time allowed. It was always relaxing and nice. We had a good time there, swimming and clamming!

In 1968, we had some visitors too. They were Ginger and Bill Francis, our close friends from the Illini Folk Dance Society, and Dorothy and Martin Njeuma, who had just been married in Cameroon and had come to the US for a visit. We enjoyed both groups of visitors.


Monday, December 19, 2011

More Weddings

When you are in Graduate school, there are a lot of weddings for that age group. Some you will attend, some you will pass. There was one wedding in 1968 that both Janice and I attended. That was the wedding between Sherman (he was the best man in our wedding) and Jean. They were married in New York. Janice and I drove to Chicago first then flew to New York. Their wedding was Chinese style, held in a restaurant. I served as his best man, too. It was nice and fun! You can see Janice in a Chinese dress!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dean and Maria’s Wedding

June 10th, 1967, Dean and Maria married at the Lutheran Student Center right next to campus on Wright Street in Campaign and the reception was at the YMCA meeting hall across the street from the Center. It was quite a formal affair for both places, as both were used regularly for many student;s informal activities. By this time, color films were used commonly too for pictures, so we had more pictures in color. Two years before when Janice and I got married the professional photographer was using black-white films for our formal pictures. It changed at that time period!

All Dean’s from from nearby and far-away were there, Janice and I were the only relatives. Maria, on the other hand, had a lot of family members there besides friends. It was a glorious sunny early summer day to remember!


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rehearsal Dinner for Dean and Maria

June 9th, 1967, one day before Dean and Maria’s wedding, Janice prepared a dinner after the rehearsal. There were more than forty people who came for the rehearsal dinner in our very small apartment unit on Illinois Street. Most guests were Maria’s family members, however the Japanese consulate stationed in Chicago was there as friend of the family. Maria’s father was impressed with Janice cooking. I was, however, worried about the front porch of our apartment, as the building was so old that I was not at all sure that porch could stand the weight. Fortunately, everything went smoothly, we did not have headline news the next day!