Hualin Essays: the Memories of the Cultural Revolution in my Childhood of Secondary School

Hualin Note: time moves like an edge, time flies as an arrow, our journey of life also goes  too fast. In an instant, I am about to retire. Really, the more one gets old age, the more he loves the memories of the past. This is because that each person has a innocent childhood, have a prime time of youth. For the things of childhood, even now you close your eyes, they are still vividly recalled, being very interesting. We are a group of people who went through a special era in our childhood and teenagers.  we were just  the students in the stage of primary or secondary school during he Cultural Revolution.

I started to go an junior high school called Hechuan No.7 Middle School in Hechuan, Chongqing  in the year of 1971. At that time the Cultural Revolution Fighting( Wudou) has just ended, I had graduated from primary school and had  waited for half a year or a year to get the chance of entering the junior high school, and  the school began in the Spring,  not like nowadays in Autumn. At that time, the primary school graduates from different years were put together in on grade of junior high school (just like the situation  of  the first college entrance examination after the Gang of Four fell down,  10 years of high school graduates squeeze together into the one grade of university), our grade had a total of more than 2000 students, divided into 20-30 classes with each class held 60-70 students . Because the school was crowded with so many students, the classrooms were not enough, every day students went school in two batches of classes, including the morning group and the afternoon group with weekly rotation. That is, in half-day we had class in school, in the other half-day we had self-study at home. This half-day study system went for about a year, afterwards, we had the whole day classes.

I was in the same class with my elder sister, and our class was called platoon1, company 5. At that time, the school’s class and grade took the unit system of ,the Red Guards. Our class teacher is Mr. Ran Longgu who taught us English. In the school entry registration, it was also required to write down in the form. We fill in the family origin a small land rental, the actual equivalent of the middle peasants. But some students in our class had misunderstood the small land rental as a small landlord.. At that time, the family origin as landlord could be very bad, for which my sister once quarreled with a classmate as he called us small landlord and she even burst into a sad cry.

Every morning, the first class was the ‘Read Every Day.’ What was ‘Read Every Day’? It was to read a paragraph of the Chairman Mao’s Quotations, or read a chapter of the Old Three Booklets. So, what were the Old Three Booklets’?  The Old Three Booklets were the Serving the People, the Commemoration on Bethune and the Foolish Old Man to Move the Mountains,all of which were written by Chairman Mao Zedong.

At that time there was a song singing: ‘Chairman Mao’s books, I love to read, thousands of times that I make effort to reed them  … …’ or sing: ‘Old Three Booklets’, not only the soldiers to learn, but also the cadres have to learn. Old Three Booklets is easy to read, but not really easy  to act according to it… … ‘

Those quotations songs, I do not know who is the composer of the songs, sang the same as sutra read. However, nowadays, I can still hum a few sentences of them. Yes, for the things one learnt in his teenage, the memory of the mind will keep them special long. I can still recite the beginning sentences of  the Old Three Booklets’. For example, the Serving the People begins with: ‘Our Communist Party and the Eighth Route Army and the New Fourth Army led by the Communist Party are the revolutionary forces.` The Commemoration on Bethune begins with: ‘Comrade Bethune, a Canadian Communist, was more than 50 years old. In order to support the Chinese people’s war of resistance against Japan, dispatched by the Canadian Communist Party and the United States’ Communist Party, came to China from thousands of miles distance. Last spring, he came to Yan’an, and later went to work in Wutaishan area. … … ` And, the Foolish Old Man to Move the Mountains begins with: ‘Today we have held a very good general assembly, an united general assembly, a victorious general assembly. The general assembly has done three things, and so on. `

Oh, at the beginning of ‘Read Every Day’, all the people in the class had to stand up, each one waved a Red Book (Chairman Mao’s Quotations), rhythmically recitation: Our respect Chairman Mao, long live! Long live boundless! Our respect  Vice Chairman Lin, good health! Healthy and healthy, always healthy! At that time, there were one or two naughty students, privately whisper: Healthy and healthy, walk with the support by .a stick.


At that time, if choose who will be the activist for studying  Mao’s book, it must be  Vice-Chairman Lin. In my memory, there placed the photo of the bald headed Vice-Chairman Lin who were concentrating on reading Mao’s book in the show window of Guoguang photo studio in Hechuan, my home town. Every day, as I went to school, passing the photo studio, would see this photo. One day, the photo suddenly disappeared. Later, some adults said that Vice-Chairman Lin followed Chairman Mao too closely, even stepped on our Chairman’s heel, our Chairman got angry at Lin. Lin was intimidated, and led a group of his wife (Ye Qun), sitting the triad Kei (Trident) to escape, accidentally fell to his death on the back of a plague pig (Wendel Khan, Mongolia,  in Chinese it sounds like plague pig) . In a more humor case, an old woman told people that the Goddamned  Vice-Chairman Lin, whose skull supposed be cut off, dared to murder our respect Chairman Mao, and in the result, by retribution, he ate the flesh of plague pig and got trouble to be poisoned to dead. Since the death of Vice-Chairman Lin, it seemed that there was on longer the ceremony of the Read Every Day in our school.

Earlier, my sister studied with me in the same class, and later to transfer back to the school system of autumn, our grade was divided into two grades, namely, the grade of 1973 (the fast class) which graduated in July, 1973 and the grade of 1974 (the slow class) which graduated in July, 1974 At the first, both my sister and I were put into the fast class, because of our good scores in examination. However, my family had a strategic plan (in fact, it was out of the idea from teacher Li Dean). If the siblings studied in the same class, later, for the high school recommendation, between two of the siblings, only one could be recommended to the senior high school, it was not easy to handle. I was a the younger one, let me go down to study in the grade of 1974. Our class teacher was Zhang Dingcheng, who then taught politics, he was especially fond of me. That was because before the class division, my examination records were fairly good and he knew that. I still remember that once we had the physics test, the only 2 students of the whole grade had got 100 points, one of whom was me. Down to the slow class, it sounded like in the mountain there is no tiger, even the monkey can declare himself as the King, my scores in the examinaitons, of course, were at the top, which won the teachers’ favorite. I took many student cadre posts, such as the class member of study, the leader of Red Guards squadron,  the branch member of the Communist Youth League branch in our grade, etc.

During the Cultural Revolution, on May 7 of a year, exactly which year I could not remember, Chairman Mao issued the May 7 Instruction. A few words of the instruction, I can still remember now: it says:` the students are as the same, their main task is to study, but also learn something else, that is, not only to study the text in the school, but also to learn agriculture, to learn factory work, to learn military, also to criticize the bourgeoisie.’ As the students,  we have a lot labor work. We had one day of the labor work in every week. In each semester, there would be arranged for one month to learn factory work or learn farming. Of course, there was the activity to learn military, and sometimes in the midnight the school would arrange us to go night marches like soldiers, even went to  the mountain top of Tongliang Dong, Hechuan, to engage in special military exercises in purpose to catch spy. Now, I reckon, if there was a war then, we would be good soldiers in the battlefield, hehe! Learning factory work was to work in the North Gate machinery factory, Hechuan Agricultural Machinery Factory, the workshop of Chongqing Fourth Cotton Textile MIll, but also listened to the old workers recalled the bitter life in old world and the sweet life in new world and accused of the old society of evil, we did not know how much tears rolling down by that. At that time, it was also the period of ‘Prepare for the war,  prepare for the shortage, and for the people’ , we, the students,  also went to dig the air raid shelter from time to time.

Of course, most of our activities in the school were to learn farming. At that time, Hechuan seventh secondary school had a school-run farm in Jiufeng mountain, Shaxi, Hechuan. Actually, the Jiufeng Mountain is only hill type low mountain, although it was called a mountain, as its altitude is only 1000 meters high. I still remember that in the geography class, our geography teacher recited the text with the eunuch style of the sissy to us: ‘Altai Mountain, Qilian Mountain, …’ Some student mentioned the Jiufeng Mountain, and the old gentleman was shaking his head to reply back: ‘Jiufeng Mountain is not regarded as mountain, it is only hill. ‘ Amused by that, the students in the class  burst into laugh for a long time. The Jiufeng Mountain farm was the result of reclamation by our students one hoe after one digging. At that time, in the site, there were barren hills, full of jungle thickets, and later, we students built a farm there through land reclamation and terraced fields construction. Each semester we spent for 2-3 weeks in the farm. Firstly, did land reclamation, and then did farming. During the process of land reclamation, from time to time, one or two snakes were also killed. The biology teacher, Mr. Wang Can, taught us the basic knowledge of agricultural sciences in the site, such as the roots, the stems, the leaves, the flowers, the fruit and the seeds, etc.

We were only 13-14 years old. Digging land for reclamation would be better for us, but to hill side fields to do fertilization were the kind of reluctant ones.  For the matter of carrying the manure buckets, I also had a fool. At that time, I was only 12 years old. One day,  I worked together with another student and we carried  a bucket full of dung, by walking on the stone of the terraced field ridge, the field road was high and narrow, and roadbed stones were loose, unstable. We were carrying the manure barrel, swinging swing, the loose stone moved under my feet, and I fell down, the bucket of dung which we carried start to pour down onto my head and  the dung liquid poured over my whole body. I was really hurt, covered with manure, and even my ears were filled with fecal residue. I was helpless, wanted to cry but could not. Fortunately, my sister came to help, she took the water to let me take a bath, and washed my dirty clothes.

In Jiufeng mountain, it often rained. In the rainy day, we did not go out to work, and stay inside our dormitory. At that time, two students squeezed in one bed, and the sleep bed was incredible crowded. However, in the mountains,  still had some sorts of fun. Just after rain, it turned clear, we went out to collect mushrooms, very easy to collect. The mountain mushroom soup was very fresh and delicious, which might be the only food left in my memory during that period. In the mountains,  the water was with heavy alkali, by drinking it, people were easy to feel hungry (digestion strong). With hard physical labor work, we often felt having not eaten enough. Some students went to the local farmers’ house to ask for food (of course, by exchange or by purchase), although this actions were violation of school’s discipline, the stomach mattered more.

In addition to the regular labor work on the farm, from time to time, the class organized our students to send fertilizer from downtown to the school farm. From the downtown to the farm, there were  10-15 km of the journey to go, mostly walked on the little path, carrying two buckets of  dung, or bearing the burden of ash. Usually, went and return within the same day, that is, with heavy burden, walked on feet for 20-30 kilometers a day. I still remember that one time our class teacher led us to send manure to the school farm, on the half way, we felt a little tired. The teacher called everyone to sit down, took the Red Book out, and we started to study the Chairman Mao Quotations. Everyone read aloud:: ‘to be determined, not afraid of sacrifice, eliminate all difficulties, to win.’ After we read Mao’s Quotations for a while, we felt as if not tired. It seemed Chairman Mao’s Quotations was also the true spirit, hehe! (Perhaps it was because of the spirit victory law, perhaps we rest for a while, physically recovered, who knows).

Of course, on the way to the farm, sporadically, there were also fruit trees of  local farmers, such orange trees, plum trees, peach trees. Sometimes, we felt thirsty, picked by chance a few fruits to meet our thirst needs. Oh, of course, it depended on your luck, did not let yourself caught by the local farmers, otherwise it was not easy to say what would happen to you. Generally speak, when I went to send manure to the school farm, I would take a few buns as the dry food for lunch. On the road, some students felt hungry, ate up their dry food in earlier time. I did not like them, if I felt hungry, I kept in thinking: hold on, and walk more distance to get eat. After finished a distance of road, again reminded to myself to persist for a while and do not eat. So on and so on, I even forget to eat. As a result,  the buns I brought out  and got back without touching them. Actually, it was not worthwhile, for my stomach got loss.

In addition to the school-run farm, in the busy season, we had to go countryside to support agriculture. The most busy season was in May, the so-called ‘Red May’. In the May, with the weather of early summer, going to countryside was for our students as if the outing in nowadays, we were certainly happy. At that time, the main rush was to do double farming work, namely the wheat harvest and the paddy rice transplant. Our task of supporting agriculture is to help farmers cut wheat. We were singing along the way to the countryside: the captain said, tomorrow we will cut the wheat, if there is sufficient wheat, every one can get a lump of wheat.

Although it was in May, the weather had already got hot, as long as the sun went out during work, our whole body would be soaked by sweat. In the process of cutting wheat, I also often cut my hand. When my hand was cut,  it would bleed a lot. We would like use the local method to treat the injured hand, such as covered the hand with the white moss on the ground side rock. The white moss wrapped in the wound can stop bleeding, like Yunnan Baiyao ( White Medicine). The most fun was to eat fresh and tender rice in the farmer’s home. For our middle school students,  tired from work, the farmer house meal was really delicious.

Later, entered high school, studied in the Hechuan No.2 High School. The activity of supporting agriculture was still commonplace, only a bit more romance, because our students grew up,had got our own thoughts. The The most fruitful thing in our farming activity in high school was to transform the original hill place into a man-made small plain  by digging hard and hard. In years of 1975 and 1976, the major things we high school students to do were the “Countering the Rightist Reversing Wind”( the whole country was required to criticize Deng Xiaoping ), while learning the countryside example village Dazhai. In the period of high school, at least,  for a full half of the time in school was to do labor work to built artificial small plain. Every day looked lively at the scene of plain construction, loudspeakers broadcast songs and poems constantly, and sometimes we even did work at night lighted by oil lamp.

I still remember that, in our class, the students with poetry talent and music talent also took artificial plain construction project as the theme, engaged in composing a group of songs  called the Hymn to the  Artificial Plain Construction, a Little imitation of “Long March Songs”. The lyrics could not be remembered, as if in which there was a sentence of “Changing the Earth to victory”. The group of songs were a bit of a smart, later, our class had a performance of the songs in the show of Hechuan People’s Hall..

The artificial small plain we made in the Hechuan No.2 High School are also playing a useful role to date. However, It’s no longer the farmland, it becomes the soccer pitch in the campus of Hechuan High School.

All right, that is the writing on the things about my life during secondary school . To think about it, in term of the activities of learning factory work, learning farming, learning military and others , although they did waste our precious time for school study, in points of view by two sides, they also bring us  some pleasant memories in  our growth process. Meanwhile, in the process of practice, we also learned some things, which have given some help in our later life.

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