Reminiscence of My Father Liu Chu-an (劉主安)

An Evening with Father and His Elder Brother Ching-yung (劉青雲)

By Liu Teh-yung (劉德勇) April 10, 2006, updated April 12, 2009. Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

Taiwanese Presbyterian Church of Washington “Vision”2009.p.22-31. [Chinese translation]

In the summer of 1980, I returned to Tainan from Bethesda, Maryland to see my

parents. As usual, I went to visit #1 uncle Ching-yung and his family who lived next door. Three generations of his family lived together, the grandparents, the eldest son, his wife and their two children. My parents and his elder brother, my #1 uncle, had lived in the same household, the Ho-Guan (和源 Compound) since they were born and after they were married. The compound is subdivided with walls to provide privacy but mutually accessible through inter-connecting doors. My elder cousin Kai-tsuo (改造), the eldest son of #1 uncle invited us for dinner with them that evening. It was near the birthday of #1 uncle, which coincides with Chung-Chiu-Che (中秋節, the Full Moon Festival). My sister Sue was in town at the time from Worcester, MA, and she joined us for the dinner. Psalm 133: 1Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

The dinner was procured from the Aa-Ha Restaurant (阿霞飯店), well known for its traditional Tainan cuisine. As the dinner started and throughout the evening, the two brothers reminiscenced their old days. My father (b, 1904), the #2 son, was 10 years younger than his elder brother (b, 1894). When father was 12, his elder brother who was then studying at Doshisha Middle School (同志社中學) in Kyoto, Japan, came back to take him to enroll at an Elementary School in Kyoto, Japan. Not knowing any Japanese, he was placed as a first year student at age 12. Apparently, father did well in school and uncle was quite proud of him. "Anne 安-ne" uncle addressing father by his nickname said, “You were a good student, and was particularly good in mathematics". Once father told me that in spite of his language problem, his teacher was very fond of him. "Teacher used to smooch my cheek against his beard each time I was able to solve a hard math problem in spite of my language difficulty.” During this time, my grandmother in Tainan was constantly worried about her # 2 son. Grandmother was #1 uncle's stepmother, as uncle's own mother had passed away when he was young. She often dictated letters to father reminding him that he should always obey his elder brother, be polite, be courteous, keep clean, dress neatly, show utmost respect to teacher, and above all, read bible daily and never miss Sunday school. She never extorted her son to study diligently for she knew her son would do well in school. Proverbs 22: 6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old he will not depart from it.

At an early age of 4-10, father took Chinese classic lessons at home with other children taught by a private tutor and later (age 11-12) at Tai Ping Ching Church Elemental School (太平境教會小學). Father had an unusual photographic memory. He was able to complete the recitation of the lesson in a short time. He learned by heart the Four Books and Wu- Chin (四書 ,五經) of Confucius as required and some poems of Li-Bai (李白.). Years later, when I was in high school trying hard to memorize these Chinese classics, father recited them to me as if he was doing it 40 years ago! “2 Corinthians 9- 15 Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.”

Upon graduation from Doshisha Middle School, the # 1 elder brother moved to Tokyo to enroll at the Keio University (慶應大學). He arranged for his brother to transfer to Yochisha (幼稚社小學), the elementary school affixed to the Keio University. His teacher urged him to stay in Kyoto to finish his elementary school education. He saw that father had a good potential to be accepted to a good middle school in Kyoto upon his graduation from the elementary school. Father missed his brother so much that he had to move to Tokyo. His teacher sent him off at the Kyoto station bidding him farewell. The year was 1918, during the Meiji Era (明治時代). It would not likely happen today.

Father entered the Aoyama Middle School (青山 學院) upon his graduation from the elementary school in 1919. His elder sister, the #1 Aunt Kim (琴) preceded him to this school. She had a Japanese roommate, Homme Sada (本目貞) who later married #1 uncle. Uncle was a frequent visitor to the school. “Anne, you were an excellent tennis player in those days" uncle beamed as he spoke to father. Indeed, while I was in high school in Tainan, father challenged me to play ping-pong and tennis with him. I seldom won. The marriage of #1 uncle and Ms. Homme Sada took place in 1922, at the Tokyo Akasaka Reinan Church followed by a reception. Father meticulously kept newspaper clippings of these events in his scrapbook. "You dressed me up and took me to the hotel to practice the use of forks and knives", father recalled. At times, father visited his sister-in-law's brother Taro San (太郎 San). “Shu-An San 主安先生" as auntie politely addressed my father,” you visited my brother's home on weekends and they called you An-chiang, An-chiang". Meanwhile, her sister Kim looked after him making sure her younger brother dressed tidily and neat. All through his life father paid little attention to how he dressed, often miss-lining buttons with their proper holes. Nevertheless, he did well scholastically and was well liked by his teachers and schoolmates. I recalled in 1938, father placed a phone call from Tainan to Tokyo, to help enroll his younger brother (#7) Ching-yen (青眼) into Aoyama Middle School. Ching-yen was unable to enroll in the middle school in Tainan because of his physical handicap. The head master of Aoyama School told father "If this is your own brother, we will accept him without hesitation". Apparently, father had left a good reputation at the School. “Psalm 65:11Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness.”

After passing competitive entrance examination, father was admitted to the Tokyo Institute of Technology (TIT), the Japanese MIT in 1923 to major in Textile Industry. By the time he entered TIT, his elder brother had already returned to Tainan newly married. Father had to learn to be independent. During his three years at TIT, he made good friends that lasted for the rest of his life. One in particular, a Mr. Nishikawa (西 川) I remember was his constant companion. They visited hot springs in every prefecture of Japan. Even after he returned to Tainan, almost every summer he made excuses to visit Japan and the two of them made trip to hot springs. He was the only one student from Taiwan and he did well at TIT. His professors invited him for dinner at their homes. Among the wives of professors, they knew this student from Taiwan, Mr. Liu, could not eat sashimi (raw fish) and other non-cooked dishes. They served him cooked meals. Father never had a stomach upset in his life.

He was elected a Tokutai Sei (Magna Cumlaude) that came with a full scholarship. Throughout his life, he was very proud of this achievement and it pleased his father and brother. Grandfather had hoped that he would return to Tainan to start a textile factory. Instead, upon graduation, he became a science teacher at the Tainan Chang Jung Girls' School (長榮女中) and married my mother who was a graduate of that school. For their honeymoon, my grandfather and the elder brother of my grandmother mother took them to Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hang Zhou. Years’ later mother recalled, “In Guangzhou all four of us had to stay in the same room in the hotel, and it was our honeymoon!”

In 1929 TIT became a full-fledged university. Father received a letter from his former professor at TIT inviting him to apply. Based on his earlier scholastic records at TIT, he was admitted to the Department of Chemistry without having to take the entrance examination, and was in the first graduating class of 1932. The diploma he displayed in his office showed: Tokyo Kogyo Daigaku (東京工業大学)Diploma Conferred to Liu Shu-an, Taiwan, Majored in Chemistry, Certificate No.2, Show-wa 7 Nien (昭和 7年, 3月31 日1932).

Father and mother were married in 1928. Father was accompanied by his wife when he returned to study again in Tokyo in 1929. While father was a freshman student at the University, mother was enrolled at the Yokohama Kyo-Litsu Seminary to major in Church Music. Upon graduation, in addition to the diploma, he was father of two sons, Timothy 篤信, the #1 and Teh-yung 德勇, the #2. He resumed his teaching at the Chang Jung Girls' School where he stayed till his retirement in 1974 at age 70.

Father loved traveling and enjoyed visiting different countries and places. Twice, he studied in England, each time for a year. First, at a Presbyterian Seminary in Birmingham, England, 1935-1936, and then at the Westminster College, Cambridge, England in 1948-1949. Once I asked him, “what did you do in England? You were a science major but in England you studied religion.” His answered, “I wanted to find out if I would be able to see my father after we die. He was so good to me.” In his diary written in August 1949 as he prepared to leave England to return to Taiwan he recollected; “I had a dream in which I talked to my father for a long time and when I asked, “If my father is already in Heaven with the Lord, write his own name on my palm. At that moment my father wrote on my palm; Liu Zui-san, 劉瑞山, the three words. When I woke up, I was thrilled, happy and convinced that my father was indeed in Heaven with the Lord. “1 Thessalonians 4 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; 17 then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

In between his study in England and summer trip to Japan, father devoted his full energy to teaching at the Girls' school, conducting Bible studies at home, teaching Sunday school at church and preaching on Sundays in rural churches. His lectures in physics and chemistry were written up, printed and distributed to the class. Students from other schools eagerly sought after his lecture notes to help their study. His sermons were well prepared and printed as well for distribution. In 1940, father authored a book, “The Basis of Chemical Equations”, Volume I & II, written in Japanese. In five years, 1940-45, over 20,000 copies were sold. Shortly after the book was published, he received an invitation from a prestigious school in Taipei to become its science teacher, he declined. The book was translated into Chinese in 1948 and continued to sell well. When I was studying as a science major in Taiwan University in 1951-55, a number of my schoolmates and teaches recognized me as the son of the author of this book.

As a child growing up, I particularly remember the visit to our home of Rev. Lin Yen-Hsing (林燕臣牧師1859-1944). Rev. Lin was Chin-Dynasty Shiu-Tsai (清朝秀才). His prodigious son Lin Mo-sheng(林茂 生 、1887∼1947) was the first Taiwanese to graduate from Tokyo Imperial University, obtained Ph.D. from Columbia University, New York and appointed as a Professor to a Japanese Government University. Rev. Lin was invited by Rev. Dr. Thomas Barclay to teach Chinese and Taiwanse to the missionaries in Tainan and to participate in the translation of Bible into Taiwanese (Romanized 白話文) . As days passed by he was deeply impressed by the missionaries and the study of Bible himself that he became a devout Christian. Subsequently he was ordained as a minister, taught Chinese classics and Bible at Chang-Jung Middle School (1898-1914), served as the minister of Tung-kang 東 港 Church (1914-25) and Professor of Religion at Tainan Theological Seminary (1925-34). He retired in Tainan, his home town in 1934 and passed away in 1944 at age 86. It was during this last period in his life that my father came to be closely associated with him. Rev. Lin was his Chinese Classic teacher who gave him his scholarly name 學名, 青雨 at age 4. Now in his vibrant age of early 30s, father once again followed his teacher Rev. Lin in his mid 70s to preach in rural churches. Rev. Lin would come to our home on Saturdays; stay overnight and early in the morning the two of them took train, bus and sometimes 輕便車 to visit local churches throughout the district of Chiayi (嘉義), Tainan (台南), Kaoshiung (高雄) and Pingtung (屏東). Often, Rev. Lin would preach in the morning worship and father in the afternoon service. The Church people called them “the double hitters”. They returned home at twilight of the day. Years later, reflecting on these trips, father would tell us that not only had he learned from Rev. Lin how to preach but also how much he enjoyed just being with him, talking each other while waiting for the train, bus to arrive at the station and on the way and back. Even now, I can vividly remember the warm, dignified scholarly countenance of Rev. Lin and the way he talked to us children. I firmly believe that our family has been blessed enormously through father’s intimate contact with and visit of Rev. Lin and other servants of our Lord. Romans 10: 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 and how shall they preach, except they be sent? even as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things!”

At home, father often talked about what happened in the classroom that day at school, such as students who answered his query with wit or made funny comments about a certain subject. No doubt, he enjoyed teaching and being with students more than sitting in his headmaster's office. He disliked attending meetings anywhere, but especially with government bureaucrats. In a classroom with young students was where he belonged. His mind and heart were always with his students even after he came home. Often he brought students home for dinner and they came to see him years after they graduated. As a young boy growing up, I welcomed their visits. Even today, I vividly remember some of them and they remember me. Not long ago in a Taiwanese church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a lady in her 80s, an alumna of Chang Jung Girls’ School, came up to my wife Sue and whispered into her ears, "I know your husband's nickname. As a little boy he was particularly naughty and looked quite brown. He has not really changed much". On several occasions, our children ran into friends from Taiwan whose mothers were father's former students. They became fast friends as if there were a magic tie between them. They went out of their way to be kind and generous to our children. “My mother/mother-in-law told us about your grandfather and wants to make sure we take good care of you" they would say to our children.

Grandfather gave each of his children a nickname. "Philanthropist" was the name father got from him. Father was a very compassionate man. While he knew he could not save the whole world, he did what he could in his own way. At home during dinner, he often talked about people who are desperately in need of help and how could we help them. I remember well three particular incidences. On his early morning walk, he noticed a young bare feet boy shivering from cold selling Chinese doughnuts (油 yu-tiau) on the street. He bought a pair of shoes and a warm jacket for him to wear. On the other occasion, towards the end of the Second World War, when food became scarce, he brought home a little boy from the orphanage for a hot meal. I shall never forget how the boy enjoyed his hot meal. And then there was a mentally ill person whose father was a millionaire in town. Upon his fathter's death, the family butler stole his master's fortune leaving the poor mentally ill man literally penniless. He walked aimlessly on the street begging. One day this person came to knock at our door when father was away. He demanded we pay him his monthly allowance! Evidently, instead of giving him money on the street, father had promised to give him a monthly "stipend" on the first day of each month. Matthew 25: 35 for I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; 36 naked, and ye clothed me; -- 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or a thirst, and gave thee drink? 38 And when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? --- 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, In as much as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me.

The year 2009 marks the 105th year anniversary of father's birth and is the 15th year since he passed away. I feel very fortunate to have had such a kind hearted compassionate father. My wife Sue and I are now in our seventies with 3 grown up children, son-in-laws and three grandchildren. Ours is a blessed family. We want more than anything else for our children, grandchildren and descendants to remember that they had a grandfather, great-grandfather, ancestor, Mr. Liu Chu-an who was a kind and compassionate man. This, I believe firmly, is the way father wanted us to remember him and practice Faith, Hope and Love as he did. I honor and adore him. Psalm 112: 1 Praise ye Jehovah. Blessed is the man that feareth Jehovah, That delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: The generation of the upright shall be blessed.