Monday, October 28, 2019

Achievements by My Siblings

As a result of the deaths of my two siblings, my family was divided into two groups which were about a decade apart. Dean and I were in the first group, while Edmund and Kai formed the second.  Our move to Taiwan after the communists occupied mainland China in 1948, affected the older group quite a bit. For one thing, we were very poor for a few years after the move. Dean and I shared those experiences and hardships. However, the family conditions, both financial and environmental, improved quite a bit by the time our 2 younger siblings were old enough to notice them. So my parents raised two groups of siblings, with very different conditions, a decade apart. But, amazingly, in the long run, there were some common results which nobody could have predicted. Let me tell you the story.

It was very difficult to enter National Taiwan University during that time, especially as it was considered the best university on the island. An applicant for college was required to take an Entrance Exam which covered 6 different subjects and lasted for 2 days. Only the people with the highest total grades could be admitted to the department of their choice in the university of their choice. It was very fair; even the grandson of Chiang Kai-Shek could not get into any university.  When I graduated from Cheng-Gong-high school in 1957, I was given the chance to go to another University without having to take the Entrance Exam. However, I decided to take the exam and believe it or not I was admitted to the Chemistry Department of National Taiwan University(NTU). Two years later, Dean passed the Exam to be admitted to the Chemical Engineering Department at NTU.  Ed graduated from high school in 1966 and he was admitted to the Chemical Engineering Department of NTU. There was then plenty of pressure for Kai in 1968 when she took the college Entrance Exam. She did pass the Exam and was admitted to the NTU Biochemistry Department. All four of us Huang Siblings got into NTU Chemistry-related Departments. You could say this was "lucky" or that it represented major accomplishments!

Another Chapter of our accomplishments is summarized below:
       Thomas Huang, PhD, University of Illinois
       Dean Huang,      PhD, University of Illinois
       Edmund Huang  PhD, Iowa State University
       Christina Huang PhD, University of Kentucky

So we all four got PhDs from Four Universities in the USA in Chemistry-related fields!

Our pictures are collected below:
  most recent

  a decade ago


Saturday, October 26, 2019

Extra Ordinary Events

There are always very extra ordinary events which occur for an ordinary Chinese! For me, there were quite a number of them and it is time now for me to describe some of them in more detail, so that they will not be forgotten. In my last blog, I mentioned that I had two siblings who both passed away during the year and a half period when we were trying to escape from the communist invasion. I am now going to add, in this blog, some details about them and about our lives during that time -  especially since I found another, better picture which was taken during that time and which has inspired me to tell more about ALL that I remember. This picture is below:
          A family picture taken in Nanking in 1947 at a famous resort area near Jiming Temple

Pictured, in addition to my parents, are myself, my second brother, Dean, our two younger siblings, and my older cousin Fusan Je. I was able to extract a better version of this picture which shows these two siblings  more clearly:
My mother was holding the boy and Fusan Je was holding the sister. This is the only picture I have with their faces exposed!

At the end of the year 1948, our family took a boat to Taiwan. Our plan was to return "home" to Hubei after we visited my mother's brother, who had been assigned to Taiwan as part of the force that took over the island afer the Japanese had been defeated. (We assumed that the communist movement would diminish and peace would return to China.) However, shortly before we left, my younger brother died as a result of a re-occuring disease of the stomach called "intussusception", which was recognized too late for the doctors to operate. Before he became sick, he had been a very active baby!

Fusan Je was in Medical School at that time so she did not go to Taiwan with us. My father went back to Nanking to work, after we had arrived and been settled at the home of my uncle in TzoIn, Taiwan. Less than a year later, my sister also died. She was less than 6 years old. She had what started as a lung infection, which then spread to her brain and other places. She could have been cured by antibiotics, but there was no medicine available. When I went to her "funeral", she was lying on the ground beside the hole which had been dug for her, because the coffin which had been bought was too small. I remembered the funny feeling I had. I was not sad, not happy, but it affected me a great deal - now more than ever before!

I did not see Fusan Je again until I was a visiting professor in Wuhan University in 1985, which was
close to twenty eight years later. She was then a physician in Shangtong, China. and she remembered the boy's death vividly when I talked with her about him!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

I once had two more siblings!

Up to this point, I have not mentioned anywhere that I had two additional siblings. They both died before I was ten, and I really do not remember them very well. Just a couple of days ago I found a picture which I took at my cousin's Taiwan home at 2011. It is a copy of one in their family album. I realized that both of those siblings were present in this family picture taken in Nanking, most likely in 1947! And this may be the only picture ever taken of the boy, born in 1946, who died before we left Nanking and moved to Taiwan in 1948. His image is not clear in the picture, but I could recognize him. He is in front of my father. I was the oldest boy in the front row of children, first from the right side. The sister who died in 1949 was next to me and in front of my mother. The boy next to her is my brother (now called Dean). The four adult men standing were my four cousins with the oldest in the center of picture. The center one of the three adult women standing is Xiaoji, sister of the four brothers. The other two were wives of the male cousins. And I am not at all sure about the identity of the two young girls in front on the left side.
 The picture below was taken in Nanking with two of mother's relatives. Hwei Ge (on the left) was the daughter of one of my mother's sisters, and Fu San Je (on the right) was the daughter of another sister. My mother was helping to raise both girls. The child is my younger sister who died in Kaoshung shortly after we arrived in Taiwan, because of the lack of medicine to cure her infection, My mother felt that girls needed to stay together for one reason and the others, so they took this picture before they separated. (Hwei Ge moved to Taiwan with my parents and Fu San Je chose to stay in the mainland.)  :

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Good bye, old Friend !!!

It was very difficult to say good bye to an old friend from Banqiao Junior High School this past summer. 孫乃競 Naiching Sun died on July 2nd in New York at 80 years of age. The funeral was held on the following Sunday, which turned out to have very bad weather. Our class leader, Chen, and another classmate, Lee, who were supposed to represent our class at the funeral, could not make the trip as their flights were canceled. At the last minute, another classmate, Warren Gao, drove there from Philadelphia to represent us. Sun was the first person to die in our class after we started to have class reunions in the USA. In 2016, he invited all of us to New York to have a class reunion and we had a group picture taken:

This 19 "boys" in the class took a picture together in 2016:
Sun was famous in the class for his skill in investment and his know-how about the stock market. He gave many lectures and wrote many pamphlets for  the class. Most inportantly, he donated quite a big amount of money to National Taiwan University, to be used for scholarships for those who needed the support! A major achievement of his early life was that he did not take the senior high school entrance exam, preferring to study at home on his own for three years. He then passed the college entrance exam and went on to National Taiwan University to get his degree in Economics. This was an extremely unusual accomplishment! Sun will always be remembered by us for his generosity and kindness. He kept a low profile but shared his knowledge and experience freely. We bid you farewell, old friend!

Family Trees

Over the years, Janice and I have often talked about many of the relatives in both our families. They certainly played a role in all our lifetime events. We often marvel that I, an "Ordinary Chinese" person, born during the Japanese War, survived without a scratch and miraculously married into a very old American family (dating to the late1600's) which gave birth to Janice. And, often, what seemed at the time to be ordinary events changed, in retrospect, into very unusual and quite rare happenings. As both Janice and I grow older, the family structures become more difficult to remember and even more difficult for the younger generations to sort out. Janice decided to tackle a plan to plot out the family trees that both she and I are familiar with and, hopefully, get at least some clarification of the relationships within our two families. It took quite a bit time for her to work this task out and she finally plotted two family trees showing what we know about each group. These are printed below. She had, as her main goal, the identification of many of the individuals who are directly linked to our children and grandchildren, so that they will have some knowledge of their ancestors. We realize that there are many "branches" of the trees which are not developed due to the space allowed. Perhaps we will try to create much larger trees in the future,
 using tabletop-sized paper! But that is for another day.

Chinese Family:
American Family:

We know that these diagrams are not very clear if you look at the blog-size. However, we hope that you can download the pictures of the family trees and see them on the computer screen in the larger, original sizes. The Chinese names are spelled out as clearly as we could, with apologies to Chinese scholars!  Hopefully, these two trees can be used by whoever is interested and we hope that they will provide some accurate information.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

My "big" Investment!

In 1977, we made a big investment. After reading in a newspaper advertisement that a parcel of land was for sale, we contacted the owner and went to see the property. The owners, who were retiring and moving to Florida, agreed to extend us a loan for the sixty acres, more or less. At the time, we imagined building a log cabin there to use as a get-away. At one time there had been a farmhouse on the land, as you can see from the picture below. It was really a pretty place - with a steam flowing down from the mountains behind, which, over the years, had created a "hollow".

After a few years of monthly payments, I do not remember how many, we were the proud owners of the land.  It was not until the end of last year (2018) that we sold it - after more than forty years! Everyone in our family, including my father and Janice's parents, visited there on different occasions. Of course, our friends and office mates did, too. They all enjoyed walking up the trail toward the mountains.

Early on, I cut down a pine tree and Janice debarked it. It took us an entire day and we were both exhausted! After that,  the idea of building a log cabin using the trees on the land was totally dismissed! We took quite a lot of pictures at this place, but to find them is almost possible. The only one I could find is this picture of the chimney, which had been part of the original farm house! That was the only evidence we had that someone had once lived on this land!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Some Side Stories about the Civic Chorale (III)

This story is about Kenton Coe, an internationally- known composer, who came to live in Johnson City and was active in many aspects of the arts and music in the city. The Civic Chorale performed some of his works and I am giving you one example below. The top picture appeared on the cover of our concert program. You can see that "The Light in This Room" was the featured part of the concert. It was written by Kenton Coe and performed on October 19, 1986 by the Chorale. The complete program for the concert is in the second picture below; the chorale performed Coe's piece after the intermission. The third picture contains the Notes by Kenton Coe concerning the music.

Some Side Stories about the Civic Chorale (II)

In the early days of the Chorale concerts, the local news paper, the Johnson City Press Chronicle, usually asked a local musical specialist to write a concert review right afterwards. In particular, there was a couple who were often asked. They were Dr. John and Mrs Anne Dowd. He was the Chair of the Music Department at nearby Milligan College and she played with the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra and was a piano teacher who happened to be our children's first piano teacher. It was a very common routine then. Both Janice and I would read their reviews and we learned from their feedback. I am now posting here a couple of examples so you can appreciate their efforts:


Some Side Stories about the Civic Chorale (I)

There is a new web page now for the Civic Chorale (formerly known as the Johnson City Civic Chorale). The web page includes a write-up about the new fourth director of the Chorale and a brief  history of the organization. (See ) Since I know some detailed stories about the chorale, I would like to add them here before they get totally lost. In this post I will report the first story. The chorale was first started in 1973 by Robert LaPella, acting by himself, and primarily involved his students. It certainly was not registered in Tennessee as an "official" organization. It was not until a local attorney, Mr. John D. Goodin, talked to me about the process of obtaining tax-deductible status (which might encourage more donations) that I realized that the first step in the process required you to register the organization as "official" in the state. He offered to help us reach that goal and we started the application process in 1975. The next year I was elected as the chorale's first president and the organization was officially registered in Tennessee. I was asked by John to thank him by singing at his church on the Milligan Highway a few times. He even played the organ occasionally  while I sang. It was great fun!

John was shot in his office by a violent gunman several years later. It was a very sad end to his career!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Cabin was certainly Part of our Lives!

Yes, the cabin quickly became an important part of our lives when we lived in Tennessee! We did not mind the extra work to open up in the spring time and to winterize the place before the freezing temperatures arrived. Both Janice and I enjoyed this small place with our elders and our young generation on many, many occasions. From cooking in the kitchen to swimming in the water, we were every place on these beautiful six acres! We went there mostly, of course, in the summer months, but we did visit there in the winter as well. At those times we usually did not sleep there but went to cut firewood or check on things.  Pictures of the place in the fall and spring are below:

At other times of the year, the beauty of this cabin place varied according to the weather. For example, morning fogs or winter snow changed the outlook. I have two pictures below to show some of the variety. In the first one, if you examine it closely you can see the tall mountain behind the mists. This was not a picture easy to take as the scene changed continuously.

 When the snow came down in the winter time, it provided a totally different picture! We did not experience that as much as I would have liked to, but that is the way it went!!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

A very fast-moving event

Before the start of 1985-86 academic year, Janice and I were asked by Margaret's classmate Edith if she  could stay with us for the next school year, as her whole family was moving out of Johnson City to another state. Margaret had earlier talked to us about this possibility and seemed agreeable to the plan. Unfortunately, Margaret was away from home at camp at the time the decision had to be made. So we made the decision ourselves and Edith became part of our family for the next year. Most interestingly, we felt that the academic year went very quickly. Certainly we had more activities with more people! You can see some examples right at the beginning of the school year in our living room, from the following pictures:

There were a total of three students with Asian backgrounds in Margaret's class, but in Steven's class he was the only one. At the time there were no other students with Asian backgrounds in  the University School. When we look back at this year, we are generally very happy that Margaret had the experience to share her room with one of her friends! 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

My Belief in God changed very, very slowly!

My baptism took place in 1956, a very long time ago! (See for details.) I decided to be baptized because I liked "church music". Nothing moved my emotions more than church music! I was not worried, at the time, about whether I believed in the teachings of the Church. It was much later that I started to consider the concept of "faith in God" and to question whether or not I could believe in a Supreme Being. When I was in Taiwan, the choir was the only thing in the church in which I was interested. (Below is the first colored picture I have from that time.)
 My thinking about these issues changed gradually, and I drifted away from the teachings of the Church. I began to question the very existence of God. The Civic Chorale fulfilled my desire to sing beautiful music and I slowly changed my focus so that church music became less important. By the middle of the 1980s, I no longer believed much of what was said on the church podium. Singing in the Chorale widened my interst in the types of music which I could enjoy and I became more involved in the chorale activities. "Hiking" also brought fulfilment of my desire to become one with Nature! I came to the decision that "God" could be found in many places - or no place at all,  certainly not just only in a church, and that different people can come to different understandings of the nature of "God".

Friday, January 11, 2019

Remembering a very kind relative, Florence Crossland

There were quite a few events which occurred in our lives during 1985. Some were huge and complicated, including one big China trip which involved the whole family and which was reported separately elsewhere on the net. (Please see for details.) Here, today, I want to report on a "small" trip which we took to see one of our favorite relatives, Janice's aunt  Florence Crossland, whom we always called Aunt Flo. It turned out that that trip was the last one we took together to see her, as she passed away not too long afterwards. From time to time, even now, we think of her and remember the love and kindness which she always showed us. She is deeply missed. She participated in many activities with our family whenever we visited the Boston area. For example, when my Father came to visit Boston and the Cape in 1972, she greeted him warmly. The following pictures were the last two pictures taken with her during our visit in 1985. At that time she was living on the Cape with her daughter, Marjorie. She was very alert and certainly happy to see us! 

Janice wants to add a few details about Aunt Flo's life: She was the youngest sister of Janice's Grandmother. Part of a family with 9 children, they grew up in Truro, Nova Scotia, in Canada. They had an older sister Sarah, who became a Sister of Saint Joseph and taught first grade in Quincy, Massachusetts, for more than 40 years! Flo married William Crossland after she came to the U.S. They had only one daughter, Marjorie. Uncle Bill's work took him to various parts of the country. In 1942, when Janice was born, he was working in Tennessee, where Janice's Father was also working at the time, at Holston Defense since it was during the Second World War. Later Flo and Bill lived in Richland, Washington for several years. They eventually returned to the East Coast. Janice remembers visiting them in Holyoke, Massachusetts. She and her sister would take the train down from Winchester and stay for a few days. Aunt Flo always provided many wonderful activities for the 2 girls during their visits! Later, after they settled in Winchester, Janice and her family were able to see Flo and Bill frequently. Sadly, Uncle Bill passed away in 1963. For a while Aunt Flo lived in a home run by Catholic nuns. However, she later decided to live with Marjorie on Cape Cod. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Adjustments of Young and Old!

My mother passed away in the spring of 1984 and my father came to live with us. Less than a year later, both the young and the old members of the Huang family had smoothly and effortlessly adjusted to this new arrangement. Father adapted to the American life quickly and was comfortable with everyone. He became part of Steven's life naturally - without a hitch! They laughed together and even slept at the sametime, as shown in the pictues below:

Margaret helped him to become familiar with Ameican life in all aspects, including her favorite holiday, Haloween:
Most amazingly, a small dog came to join our family. Here she is, getting a bath for the first time. She was certainly loved by some members of Huang family!