3. Nanjing Baishuiqiao, the First Work Stop

After the universities published the list of new students in the summer of 1936, I already knew I had not been admitted to the universities. There was no sadness or shock to myself. The classmates of close friends who had good grades, such as Xu Xixiang, Fu Renshou, Wang Wuxiang, Yin Zhongkui and others were admitted to the National Chiao Tung University, Zhongda University, Fudan University, Jinling University, and dozens of excellent students who graduated in the same class were admitted to various famous universities. About 60 people graduated from the whole class, one-third of them went to universities. The admission rate was not high. Some were because of average grades and the others had poor family finances, They were unable to continue their studies. In addition, many other students needed to take over management of family-run businesses or industries no longer apply to colleges.

Image by Colin_Guan from Pixabay

In mid-September of that year, brother Kai had already worked at the Baishuiqiao Research Institute of the Nanjing Ordnance Industry Department. Knowing that I had not been admitted to the university, Kai asked me to go to Nanjing to join the Baishuiqiao Institute as a trainee. I met Liu Zhiguo, Fang Zhaokai, Shi Qiwen, etc. At that time, the institute was under construction and there was no formal work. We once organized a basketball team and hired Tian Hanxiang from Nanjing Institute of Physical Education as the head coach to carry out sports activities. He also organized a tour of Zhenjiang Jin Jiao Two Mountains and Yixing Two Caves by the institute trucks as the spring outing in 1937. Zhou Zhihong, director of the Institute of Materials Research at that time, served as the vice president of Shanghai Jiaotong University a few years ago, and now serves as a consultant because of his seniority. Zhou Zhicheng, director of the accounting department, is still a professor at Jiaotong University. Huang Qi Neng works in Shanghai and is a well-known expert in textile machinery. Shi Qiwen once worked in Taiyuan Steel Plant, but the situation is now unknown. Another Zong Fupei has retired working in Guiyang.

Thanks to Kai’s support, Xiaosheng was able to work in Baishuiqiao in the first half of 1937. As I remembered, Xiaosheng was escorted to Nanjing by Uncle Jingxiang. And my cousin also entered Baishuiqiao to work in September of the same year, which played a huge role in the fate of the two of them in the future. It was a turning point for both of them. If Xiaosheng lost this opportunity, he would not have a chance to leave the village and work in the big city. My cousin just lost his job in Qingfeng and took a break at home at that time. If there was no such opportunity, his hometown soon fell to Japanese occupation, and his future would be worrying. My brother Kai helped both of them, and they were deeply impressed. Xiaosheng has retired and lives in Shanghai now, and my cousin is still working because he is the deputy chief engineer.

After the July 7th Incident in 1937, the Anti-Japanese War began. Soon after the August 13th Shanghai War broke out, the shipping of Shanghai Port was interrupted. The Ordnance Industry Department decided to set up an office in Hong Kong to receive arms materials, and appoint Fang Zhaohao as the director. Brother Kai was introduced by Zhao kai and was hired by Fang Zhaohao to work in Hong Kong. Brother Kai resolutely made a bold decision to take me to Hong Kong. Brother Kai sent his wife Fang and son Ning back to Luzhi. I went back to my home in Changzhou and told my mother, my aunt, little brother Chang, the second eldest sister, etc. At that time, my cousin happened to be at home because of a problem in the Qingfeng factory, and was helpless, I returned to Nanjing and talked with Kai, and tried to get my cousin to replace my trainee position. Later, my cousin tried very hard, he was admitted to Zhejiang University and graduated from the Department of Chemical Engineering.

I can’t remember the exact date. It was about the end of September 1937. I, Kai, Xie Chengjian, and Zhou Shaoda went to Hankou on the same boat, then transferred to Canton-Hankou Railway to Guangzhou, and after living for a few days then went to Hong Kong. Liu Zhiguo also transferred to Hong Kong, about to go with the Fang Zhaohao a few days before us.

Baishuiqiao was my first stop when I started working in society, but since I left that year, I have never been there again, and I often feel yearning. If brother Chang and I are in good health, we plan to go back to our hometown in May and June this year, take the opportunity to take a bus to Tangshan via Yixing and Liyang, take a hot spring bath, and then go to Baishuiqiao to see the current changes. At that time, whether the model tool factory, material research institute, optical testing room and other buildings are still or have been renovated, whether there are old traces can be found. Then enter the city for a tour. Brother Chang once said that he could still remember the place where the brother Kai’s family lived in the past, so he couldn’t help but visit. After the Nanjing tour, I plan to travel to Yangzhou by car, then to Zhenjiang, and then return home.

Nanjing in 2019
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