In China, and World War II

On my earliest China trips, Chinese men and women were still spitting on the sidewalks; little children were still squatting beneath a sidewalk tree, pulling their slitted pants bottoms to one side, and using the tree area as a bathroom.  The Chinese have now forbidden the spitting, thankfully, but I haven’t been there to see if that’s really forbidden.  (Somewhat like the one child per family rule, which today has created a problem:  since “boy” babies were the most desired, there aren’t enough grownup girl “babies” for them to marry.  So … there may be some relaxing of that law, but it may be too late to save a generation.)

Once in a while in China, one sees a red symbol on a wooden gate leading to an inner courtyard.  And one wonders if that is showing the individual who lives there was a Mao supporter.  (Of course, the Chinese ruler during WWII, who was our “ally”, has his detractors, too.  Much of the dislike was for his wife, who, when she visited Washington, D.C. as a honored guest of the White House, required that her bed sheets be changed each day – sometimes twice a day, if she’d napped in the afternoon.  For American women who were worried about using too many food coupons, coming up short at the end of the month, that didn’t sit well.  Yes, we had shoe coupons, too.  I think we got threeWar Rationing Shoe Stamp pairs of shoes a year, but I could be wrong about that.  And there were no silk stockings. Or cigarettes.  I think there were coupons for meat etc.  I was a welcome guest at my grade school friends’ homes:  I came bearing butter (which I’d churned, tsk), eggs, and some other item I don’t recall.)

One of the delights of being in China is seeing the glorious, colorful architecture.  Unfortunately, on my last trip there, the new buildings look like they belong in New York, not China.  I’ve mentioned it, but don’t get positive response from my Chinese hosts.  I want China to stay China;  New York to stay New York. And ne’er the twain should meet—at least architecturally.  (It’s that pesky history teacher instinct in me—sorry.) I appreciate the culture and history of China so much that it outweighs in my mind any possible difficulties.

 

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