Saturday, January 29, 2011

Liang’s Engagement Party

Liang Hsin Guao(梁 兴 国) got engaged when we were still in college. Liang was my Banqiao Junior High school classmate. It was a very unusual event. First of all, at that age, most of us did not even know if we could have girl friends, certainly did not know how to have one. Yet there he was - getting engaged! It was beyond imagination. Secondly, we had to dress up to go to this party. Because of this we definitely remember that event! Liang was in the middle of the picture. This had to be the only time when everyone wore a tie!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Physical Chemistry

National Taiwan University was "THE" best University on the island at that time. Yet in the courses we took while in the Chemistry Department, many professors (in chemistry and in other departments) were quite lousy. Some teachers knew their material but did not know how to deliver it. Some were just so terribly bad that it was hard to judge if they knew their stuff at all. Oh, don't get me wrong, there were some great professors, just very few in the Chemistry Department.

The toughest course in our junior year was Physical Chemistry. Our professor was Pang-kuan, who was also our Department Head. He was not an exciting teacher, but he knew the material. He enjoyed the subject, which was shown on his face. However, he was not organized; we did not get the whole picture of the main points. I liked the subject and then decided that I would pursue it further in the future. I therefore worked on my undergraduate theses under his direction.

The following pictures were taken in Physical Chemistry and Quantum Chemistry labs. We were quite serious about these subjects, but I learned very little.

This is the picture of my first Zinc emission spectrum; I still have it!

Monday, January 24, 2011

More about Relatives

After we moved to Taiwan, quite a number of relatives followed us and moved there as well. For Mother it was the same two camps: Father's side and Mother's side relatives. This gap was never closed in my Mother's mind. She continued her explosive irritable manner against Father's relatives, and she also continued to suffer from her own emotional drain by recalling and reciting past incidents, which most others around her tried hard to forget, but could not.

The following two formal pictures represented the main characters of both families. They had nothing much to do with each other, besides knowing of the existence of the other side.

Chen Qin-zhang(陳庆章), my uncle, was in military uniform. His wife was in his front. The older lady beside my aunt-inlaw, was her relative, who took care of their three kids when we first met her at their home. We called her "chiachia". Another young man in the picture was our cousin Yao-Gao(陳耀生) whose mother was my mother's sister.

Yuan Zu-qi(袁祖起) was the handsome man in the picture. He was Xiao-gie's husband. Xiao-gie was one of three children of my father's big brother to follow my father to come out of country life to get an education in Wuhan. They had five children together in this picture.

Friday, January 21, 2011

My First Choirs

Miss Sells asked me to start and to direct her Friendship Corner Choir in 1958, since I had had experience earlier in directing a high school chorus. I took the challenge without knowing how much was involved. It was a typical case of not knowing enough and therefore having no fear! This choir sang every Sunday night at Friendship Corner, before the sermon and after the group singing for the first half an hour. For many of the choir members, this was their first time ever to sing in four parts. We had a lot to learn and we certainly learned a great deal in the next four years. I was truly quite busy with church related activities every Sunday since I also sang myself in another choir! Usually I rushed first to Truth Lutheran Church for half an hour choir rehearsal, which Mr. Gao directed. Mr. Gao was an outstanding director. I learned a lot about music from him rather than from music classes in school. Besides singing every Sunday service, the Truth Lutheran Church choir had several formal concerts every year, including singing the complete Christmas part of Handel's Messiah. That was also the time when I learned to sing the tenor solo parts in the Messiah as well. Every Sunday evening, I would arrive at Friendship Corner about half an hour before seven pm to rehearse with the choir I directed. Of course, we did some special concerts as well. Usually Beatrice Yin was the accompanist. On special occasions, Mrs. Woodberry would come to help. She was a quiet, soft-spoken lady and a superb piano player. Both choirs rehearsed once a week. When did I have time to do any other things?

The picture below was taken during the concert given by the choir I directed. I usually sat down to direct in the small hall we used for students meetings.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wendell Friest (傅立德)

Wendell Friest came out of nowhere and became a close friend during the last three years of my Taiwan life. One night he came to listen to the Truth Church choir rehearsal, standing outside the church. He was impressed and introduced himself to Ms. Jones and to me. Since he had a car, we could go visit many places around the city, which we did, and he regularly became our week-end companion. Wendell was then in the US Navy, stationed in Taipei, and he was a graduate of the University of Nebraska with a major in music. He later directed a choir at Christ College, which was a church college established by an American missionary. And on one occasion he carefully and painstakingly recorded quite a number of Chinese songs that I sang without much rehearsal, as he was very interested in what was taught to me in music. Somewhere, there is still a 7" tape of that recording in the attic.

The picture below was taken as a slide. It shows the four regulars on one of our outings.

The next picture was taken by me in Wulai, a nearby waterfall outside Taipei. We went there for a picnic on the spur of the moment. The people in the picture were Wendell, Sherman, Ms Jones, and a girl whose name I no longer remember.

After his Navy commitment in Taiwan, which I believe was four years, he came back to the US and went to a seminary in St Paul, MN. After Janice and I got married in 1965, a year or two later we went to vacation in the Minnesota area and visited them, as Wendell had married Faith by that time. They went back to Taiwan as missionaries, and successfully achieved their goal there during the next thirty and more years.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sherman Tang (汤树民)

I first met Sherman when he was playing basketball for his class at Chengkung High School. He was two years ahead of me. (His class had a very good four-eyes (with glasses) player, which was unusual . The four-eyes player was on the school team with me.) Our class teams competed fiercely that year (which was my first and Sherman's third) so all the players got to know each other pretty well. Then Sherman went to Tong-Hai University, which was established just the year he graduated from High School. Since it was a "Church University" run by foreigners, the foreign language department became instantly famous. That was Sherman's major. We only met once in a while when he came home to attend Truth Lutheran Church, which I also attended as I was singing in the choir. He also joined the Lutheran Student Center where Ms Jones was in charge. We became close friends over the years. I do not remember the occasion when we said to each other that we would be in each other's wedding. However we did just that! He came to Boston when I got married and was my best man in 1965. I was his best man when he got married in New York a couple of years later.

The picture below was taken during the period when we were at Lutheran Student Center. As you can see, we were happy together and he was a very handsome fellow already at that time!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Delaware's weather is quite similar to that in Johnson City, Tennessee, where we used to live. In January, it is cold. In Taiwan, winters were really mild when we were growing up. Not only fruits were abundant, flowers were also everywhere on the island. Our backyard was full of fruit trees and flowering plants. Azaleas surrounded the small fish pond. I wish I had had, at the time, a color camera and the appreciation I have now, so that I would have a good picture to match the whole scene in my mind now. But I did not have either.

I have one picture of myself with the azaleas at my side, during the flowering season, in front my room. In the winter days of Delaware, somehow, I can imagine how much I should have appreciated more of what I had. I was really in a wonderful place to grow up. It is a picture without color, but you could imagine the bright pink color with light brown stamen in the center. How many people had this kind of experience?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Some enjoyable classes

I started to enjoy some of my classes in college during the second year at Taida. Differential Equations was taught by an old professor in the Math Department. He was a no nonsense tough teacher. No one in the class had a grade above 80 at the end of the semester. Of course, 80 meant that your semester average for all exams in the course was 80%. On the other hand, I felt that I learned quite a bit by the end of the course and I was certainly challenged. So, overall it was a good experience. Two of our classmates did not pass the course which meant that they had to repeat it before they could graduate. I also took a course in the Foreign Language Department called "Speech and Debate". It was taught by Ms Jones. The Department was famous because the majority of students in the department were female and, further, most of them were more modern and thus more beautiful - at least that was the thinking! It was a selective course and quite fun for a Chemistry major. Another extra course I took was in the Physics Department. It was the one-semester class "Classical Mechanics". A lady teacher read the text in every class we met, but the exercises we did were very interesting and challenging!

Most of our study time in sophomore year, however, was invested in Organic Chemistry. Professor Lin Yau-tan scared us with his first exam. It had no limit on the time and some people took 10 hours to finish that exam! It was pretty ridiculous. It took me more than three hours. In recalling that experience, I wonder what the purpose was! At the end of the second semester, the class had a party together at the Fu-Yaun. The following picture will give you a glimpse of how we looked.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Study Buddies

Freshmen year in Taida provided other challenges to our lives, as well. While most of our courses were not as intensive as those in the last years of high school, the one year calculus class, which covered the equivalent of 1.5 years of material found in a similar course in the US, was definitely very fast paced on a difficult subject. Everyone spent quite a bit time in dealing with it. I made two friends in the class so that we could study together every week. We not only did our exercises at the end of each chapter - every one of them, not just the assigned ones - we also did exercises from two others books in the library. We therefore spent quite a bit of time together every week. The names of these two are Ting Chen Han-sen (丁陈汉蓀)) and Cheng Ming-ye (程明怡). Both of them were staying in the student dormitory and they were always looking for outside places to eat, either restaurants or friends' homes. They were so famous that they were regarded as the King and Prime Minister of the Big-Eating Kingdom, an honorary empire. They came to my home to eat quite often. My mother had to cook unusually more food for them. And they especially liked to come to my home, as it was close to the campus and my mother's food was always plentiful and good.

The following pictures were taken on the Taida campus to remember our togetherness.