On the Banks of Hudson River
In March 2008, my wife Heidi and I returned to Taiwan during the presidential election. I paid a visit to my uncle, Po-Ta Chen (陳伯達）in my birth place and hometown, Hsinchu. At age 95 now, he is the only surviving elder among the relatives of my father’s generation. Unexpectedly, he handed me the original hand-written copy of the Chen’s family registry (pedigree) when we met and asked me to be its custodian. He said, “You are the one with the highest level of education in our family and capable of safe-keeping this valuable family registry.” I was very grateful for his words of praise and encouragement.
This family registry was written in hand brush and edited by my grandfather in 1933 based on the early version written by my great-grandfather in 1882. It was passed down to my father for custody. My father had updated it a bit until he passed away in 1973. However, I intend to turn this valuable book over to my family in Taiwan eventually. I believe that it should be kept in Taiwan since very few of my own descendants who grew up in the U.S. would be able to comprehend Chinese writing, especially the classic Chinese.
I feel a great sense of responsibility to make good use of this family registry to tell our children and posterity thereafter about their ancestry and whereabouts they came from. Therefore I made a special effort in this memoir to trace the origin of the ancestors in mainland China and how they passed down from generation to generation until the present. As the one who was born and grew up in Taiwan and now has been living in the U. S., I believe that I am the best bridge between the relatives living in both sides of the world. I hope this memoir, in both English and Chinese, will help them all connect to one another better.
More importantly, I want them to know also about my early years in Taiwan and how I made the journey to the United States. Like the ancestors who sailed across the swift “Black Current”（黑潮）of the Taiwan Strait from Fujian Province, Southern China to Taiwan in 1770s, I sailed across the Pacific Ocean from Taiwan to North American Continent 190 years later. Despite the differences in distance and time, the audacity of both voyages was similar. There were also more relatives who migrated to the U. S. after me. These were the testimony of the long journey in our family history to seek a better life and opportunity in better places within the global village.
Over the past 60-plus years, I have met many people of various different backgrounds, who have lived in Taiwan as well as different cities of America, and traveled to many places within the U. S. and abroad. Human history is the records of people encountering with time and place. Everyone will leave some traces on the earth where he or she has passed through. There were some significant events as well as interesting anecdotes that I happened to witness and encounter during my life. I described them in this journal to reflect where I was when they occurred.
I started to write this memoir in 2010. With frequent interruptions, I finally completed the English draft in early 2013. It was about ten years after retirement from my full-time job. For the benefit of those relatives living in Taiwan, I spent one more year to complete the Chinese version and to assemble the photo pages. These were time-consuming and cumbersome tasks, especially typing Chinese characters with personal computer. The Chinese edition in book form is scheduled to be published in Taiwan in June 2015. I am glad that I have finally finished this important and the final project of my life at age 80.
Chungchin Chen Spring of 2015, Latham, NY, U.S.A.
Birth:1935 in Hsinchu City, Taiwan
Education: National Chengchi University, Taiwan BA in Political Science (1959)
University of California at Berkeley, Master of City and Regional Planning (1965)
Employment: Assistant Planner (1965-1967), City Planning Department, Kansas City, Missouri
Senior Planner (1968-1969), Metropolitan Planning Department, Marion County, Indianapolis, Indiana
Principal Planner (1970-1973), Deputy Director (1974-1979), Executive Director (1980-2003), Capital District Regional Planning Commission, Albany, New York
Chief Administrator (1994-2003), Capital District Youth Center, Inc., Albany, New York
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Posted in 2015/07