21 April, 2010 : Old Photos of Great Grandparents


I am working on the presentation to the Shanghai Art Museum where we have to put my granddad's life into chronological order. Some of the years in Huang Yao’s life, we don't have information on him so I thought of putting photo's, well that also turned out to be quite hard as we have not quite catalogued the photo's yet and many times we don't even know who the people are in the photo's or where the photo's are taken.

I put 3 images here, the old lady is Huang Yao's mom, ie my great-grandmother, probably in Ningbo fashion. The 2 other pictures, I think are my grandmom's dad, ie great-grandfather Zheng, or Huang Yao's father-in-law, whom as far as I know I think because of the war, they never met. I think my grandmom notified her dad via mail of her engagement and marriage.

As we have been spending so much time on the Huang Yao side, I am quite curious who great grandfather Zheng is... my grandmom said he is a military man and since they are from Anhui Tongcheng, maybe it is possible to trace that side of the family? I don't even know his name though as he signed all his letters to her as "father". We have one other lead, which is that his father in law (my grandmom’s granddad) is a well-known philanthropist, who has built several schools and there is at least a bronze bust of him on the internet.


I have this memory of lying down with my grandmom and she telling me stories of her younger days and how her dad had to travel big distances, I asked how, assuming probably on horse back and she said, “by plane of course....”, my imagination was him racing on horseback… well, that’s ignorance for me! But the best part of that memory was seeing my grandmom laugh as she described how she would play as a child outside the wall of her house and she said, “oh that is such a happy memory” and she would die several weeks later.