Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Our Shu-shu, our "uncle"

Our Su-su came to join us sometime after we moved to our new place in Taipei in 1954. He was a refugee in Hong-Kong from the same county where my father was born, which was Huangpei county in Hubei province. Somehow my father recognized that he had come from the same place and made all the arrangements for him to join us in Taipei. My father also arranged a job for him in the University. We were told to call him "uncle" in Chinese. The picture below was taken in 1981.
When we stayed at the Guest Professor Residence area, Su-su was the person who took care of all the arrangements for the professors living in the compound. One of the families staying there as residents was part of the extended family of Confucius, in fact part of the 79th generation of direct descendants. Su-su asked the head of the family to do us a favor by writing the doublets shown below as a gift. He agreed and later presented us with the beautiful calligraphy. 
The words on the right side of this doublet state that this was written for our enjoyment with our names specified. On the left side is the signature of the calligrapher. In the middle, the two panels paint a picture in words. Each individual who reads the poem will have a different interpretation and envision a different scene. That is the interesting part about calligraphy!  The scene can even change for one individual over time. In this case, the words on the two panels are matched, in that nouns, adjectives and numbers are all paired with a similar structure on the opposite side. Here we have 
on the right side: "Flat bridge, wild stream, two thousand pages of poems"  and 
on the left side: "Far tree, isolated village, a moon across one curtain".
I hope that you will enjoy reading these words written by a direct descendant of Confucius.
 The doublets have been a treasure in our for home many years!

Monday, November 14, 2016

It was a great gift!

The gift to us from Sanlu and Taotze, that afternoon at Yangming mountain, was very special because it required much time and energy to organize. The afternon swim in the hot Taipei weather was just the starter. At that time, they were living and working in Kaoshung, which is at the southern end of Taiwan, while Taipei is in the north. I do not remember now if they took the train the day before or came by train that same day. Regardless, they had to take a long train ride to get there and then spent the entire day together with us. Every time we went back to Taiwan they made similar arrangements. When we say that we are good friends, we really mean that! On this particular occasion, we all had dinner together at White Cloud Village (Baiyun Mountain Place), which was then also a resturant. That made this get-together perfect! I forget what we ate, but all of us enjoyed a wonderful day!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

White Cloud Village at YangMing Mountain

As usual, we made arrangements to meet with Taotze, my best friend from Banqiao Junior High School, and his family. This time, they came up from Kaoshung to meet us at Yang Ming Mountain, in a place called Baiyun Village. Besides Taotze's wife, Sanlu, and their two children, they also invited Sanlu's sister and her family. The six children of our three families went to swim first. They certainly enjoyed the cool water during the hot July days of the subtropical weather in Taiwan. We shared a lot of chatting under the shade of the umbrellas provided at this nice villa-like setting. The adults also tried to cool down by dipping into the water once in a while. You can see our children's happiness from the picture below:

Friday, November 11, 2016

Another Visit to Taiwan

Since we had traveled half way around the world, of course we had to stop in Taiwan on the way home! At the time, Taiwan was still very suspicious of Mainland China's intentions. This was to the degree that my father had been telling me to be very careful about getting involved with any political tendency. When we arrived Taipei, my father even made an appointment for me to meet with the "private" son of President Chiang who at the time was the second in command of the Foreign Affairs Office for the Nationalist Government. You can see how careful my father was at the time! It had been arranged for us to stay in a Visiting Professor residence so that we could more freely come and go, without worrying about our parents schedule. That was definitely very convenient for us. The first picture below was taken in front of the entrance  of the Visiting Professor residence where we stayed. The next two pictures were taken near my parents' home and the last picture was taken in their front yard.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Nanking, where I started my first grade!

After Beijing, we flew to Nanjing, where I had started going to school in first grade.  I was interested to show our two children the place which held my earliest memories. We went there and enjoyed fried dumplings until we were truly full. We then went to the elementary school which I had attended. At the time when I was in school there, it was part of Central University. By 1981, it had become part of Nanjing Normal University. We met a lady teacher who had been a teacher during the time when I was there. She came and had her picture taken in front of the school. Then we went to see my former home. Of course it was much smaller than I remembered. We had lived upstairs. There was quite a bit laundry hanging outside. The pond which I remembered right in front of the yard was no longer there. I took a picture for memory's sake! Finally we went to visit a number of places in Nanjing, including Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum, where our children had their picture taken to remember the occasion. There is a family joke about this visit. Whenever our children complained about their "long walk" to school every day, I would remind them that when I was in school I had a much longer walk which took a very long time! However, during this visit, our kids noticed that my "long walk" was not longer than their's - in fact it was, perhaps shorter! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Animals at the Ming Tombs

Almost every tourist in China visits Beijing. He or she would go first to visit the Great Wall. But not many would know that they would be just a short distance from the thirteen Ming Tombs. It is another unbelievable historical World Heritage Site. We should certainly appreciate that our ancesters left them for us. I believe that the Ming dynasty had a total of 14 emperors and thirteen of them are buried in this site, situated all around the mountains as shown in the picture below:
At the entrance to the site, in the middle of the picture, the tombs were guarded first by different animals, and then by human statues, as in the pictures below:

In 1981, not only could you walk among these animals, you could also climb on top of them. You can no longer even see these precious statues as they are protected from visitors.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Our first Family Tour of China

Right after I finished my short course in Wuhan, we started our family tour of some important cities in China. (Again, please see the webpage posted earlier:  http://jat.esmartweb.com/mainland.htm. I will not repeat here.) We met more relatives in Beijing. They were family members of my fourth cousin. He and his wife had lived there all their lives. They had a daughter and a son, living nearby on the east side of the city. We went to visit them several times during our stay in Beijing while we were staying at the Friendship Hotel on Beijing's western side. Not only did we have some great dishes to eat in their small apartment unit, but also they accompanied us to visit the Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. We have
 some of these pictures to show you below:

Friday, November 4, 2016

Animals at East Lake, Wuhan, China

Both Margaret and Steven were old enough to enjoy the China trip in 1981. While we were teaching at the University, they had the company of a couple of graduate students who took them to visit some local places. For example, they told us about their visit to the local pool, where the Chinese Olympic competitors practice. The water was so green that they did not dare to swim in there! The University provided us with very good meals every day, but during the early summer time at that time, local fresh vegetables had not yet come out, so we had very few choices for vegetables. Margaret and Steven certainly got the chance to see how the Chinese were living, which was a very good experience for them. We went to the East Lake area to enjoy the scenic beauty quite a few times. Our children enjoyed the man-made animals there. They climbed up on them and I was happy to take their pictures!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The whole family visited China for the first time!

After my trip to China in 1980, when I went by myself, I decided to take more trips there, with the whole family if possible. My feeling was that China was in the mood to open up and try to connect with the rest of the world. I believed that we should take advantage of their willingness to accept outsiders and plan to visit this enormous country while we could. So, in 1981, I made arrangements to lecture on Chemical Kinetics at Huachong Normal University in Wuhan and, after the short course, to travel with the whole family to Chungking, Xian, Beijing, and Nanjing. The trip has already been described on my web page. (Please see http://jat.esmartweb.com/mainland.htm. for details.) While in Wuhan, we did visit my mother's Normal School and took a family picture there under a Linden tree. It was still operating as a school and we were impressed! And there are two more pictures I would like to post here. They were taken at the great wall of China and they are among my favorite pictures!


Monday, October 31, 2016

The peak of the Civic Chorale during my tenure

It is very difficult to say when the Civic Chorale reached its peak during the years I sang with them. Actually, there are no set criteria for making such an estimation for any group. However, I will present my personal choice for that peak time, based on the following evidence.  The Civic Chorale started in 1973. Officially it became a Tennessee state non-profit organization in 1976. In 1981, we reached the ideal size for a chorale, with a good distribution of different parts. Our director, Robert Lapella, was in his prime and many, if not most, of the members were also enjoying their best years for singing. In 1980, the whole group went to Nashville to perform at the opening of the brand new Performing Arts Center! In 1981, we even had a singing group from England come to visit us and, in 1982, we went to perform at the Knoxville Worlds Fair. Therefore, I have decided that, in my estimation, this period of three to five years were the best for the Civic Chorale. I have a nice picture of the whole group taken in the Milligan College Auditorium.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Soccer Practice

Soccer was not a popular sport in the USA in the early 1980's, especially compared with baseball. (Steven did start baseball practice in the first grade and where they played so-called T-ball.) However, for the soccer team we had a very enthusiastic coach, an ETSU student from South America who volunteered to coach Steven's team for a couple of years. There was no formal organization. They just had some fun games whenever he could arrange one. There were quite a number of adults involved. We had this picture taken and I do not remember the exact date , but it was definitely in 1981. You can see our good friends, Otto and Prudy Zinser, the parents of Kurt, and Bob Lapella was there also as his son, Alex, was on the team. The Foreign Student Advisor was there in the picture, as the coach was a foreign student. Frank Newby was there too, as his son Peter was in one grade lower at the University School and played on the team. So it is a very interesting picture!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

School Play

In the spring semester of 1981, Margaret's class had a school play. It was an early American traditional play and all the cast members were in costumes. The play was actually a musical with singing and square dancing. We no longer remember the title of the play, but all the children involved had a great time. Certainly Margaret did! The class teacher was Polly Taylor, who can be seen taking pictures in the fourth picture posted below. Jane LaPella, who was not a teacher in the school but who was playing the piano for them, is shown in the third picture. Margaret's best friend, Wendy Whitmore, is standing next to Margaret in the first picture!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Annual Christmas Photo Shots

Every year, during the month of November, the whole family would choose one day on a weekend to take pictures of our children for our Christmas cards. We did this routinely until after both of them left for college. This year, 1980, we chose the picture for our card from between the two pictures shown below:

In 1980, I had just made the final switch away from slides to Kodak color prints. To have a Christmas card made using a commercial service, you must send the negative of the picture you wanted to use so that they could print it on the cards you have chosen. Our finished product was just a card with a Santa on it and a very simple holiday wish!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Music Programs at the University School

There were other musical programs which we were involved with during the time when our children were at the University School. In their early days, there were no special music teachers provided by the school. There was an arts teacher, but the school did not hire a full time music teacher for many years. Sometimes a student's parent played for the children during a special program. Much later the University School did hire a full time music teacher and he started a singing group and some instrumental programs. Although the singing group had some success, those who were in an instrumental program had to provide their own instrument, which was not very easy to accomplish. Clearly, it was very difficult to have a worthwhile music program at this small school of about 6 hundred students spread over all 12 grades. By contrast, in Taiwan, when I was growing up, although we were very poor we always had a music teacher for our class in school. I have a couple of pictures of a performance at University School which did involve our children:

Monday, August 22, 2016

A "bear" scare on the Blue Ridge Parkway

In the early summer of 1980, Janice and I decided to take a weekend off to go camping on the Blue Ridge Parkway. As we drove into the Pisgah Mountain campground near Ashville, there was a sign saying "Bear Alert" posted. The ranger told us that they generally do not bother people much, and we were very happy to set up our tent and we quickly forgot all about it. In the middle of that night, I heard a big noise outside. Both Janice and I woke up quickly, in time to watch a big black bear banging our cooler on the picnic table, trying to get everything out of it. He then ate the entire contents as quickly as he could put them into his mouth. We witnessed him eating eggs, bacon, bread, sandwich meat, etc. He also drank a half gallon jar of milk, and - like the coca cola commercials - he would bite a hole on the top of a soft drink can  and then drink it with his head up toward the sky. While this was going on, Janice was making a plan of what we would do if he decided to come into the tent looking for more food.  I would have to use the ax in my hand to fight him off while Janice would cut a hole on the back of the tent and get the kids to our station wagon! Fortunately, he left without coming into our tent so we did not have to carry out our plan. Believe it or not, a few minutes later he came back to finish the last cold drink from our cooler and left us for good! The next morning, our kids were very upset with us because we had not woken them up to witness the visit by the bear! The picture below was taken in front of our tent the day before, and I do not think we used that tent ever again!