The Story of Mae Eng Chao & Hsio Ho Chao

17 June 2019
Left:A rare photo of Mae, Ted, and Ho all together in Hong Kong, 1949, shortly before their separation; Right:a letter from Ho
to Mae, September 26, 1952. Courtesy of Ted Chao, Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Collection
左图:1949年Mae, Ted, and Ho一家三口在香港的珍贵照片,不久之后他们就分开了;右图:1952年9月26日,学訸写给
美的一封信。Ted Chao捐赠,美国华人博物馆(MOCA)馆藏

Mae Chun Eng was bornin Norfolk, Virginia in 1918, spent her adolescence in the States, moved to China for a period at age 12, and then returned to the U.S. to finish high school, go to university, and receive her master’s degree in 1946 from Columbia University. While at Columbia, she was an active member in the Chinese Students Association and met Hsio Ho Chao (b. 1913, Zhejiang, China), who showed up to a meeting one day looking for a free meal. The two were married in Shanghai and had a son, Ted, the next year. In 1949, Mae and their son moved to Virginia.

While the couple thought they would reunite swiftly, Ho and Mae were separated for many years. As a female U.S. citizen, Mae was unable to sponsor her husband in the States, and the rapid and uncertain change in China and Ho's shipping career following the Communist takeover made it difficult for her to return to China. Throughout their separation, Ho and Mae sent letters and photographs back and forth as often as every few days. Son Ted Chao donated a selection of letters handwritten by Ho to Mae from 1951 to 1952. The open tenderness of his words and the depth of his reflections on war stand out in their correspondences. His unwavering desire for their reunion, his pride in their son, and his hatred of the corrupt greed that spawns war are themes throughout.

Ho was later imprisoned in a labor camp in Guangdong and would not escape until 1963, when his old Hong Kong classmates paid for his way out. Ho spent the first three nights of his escape traveling down the Pearl River, hiding among rocks during the day to avoid British guards. While he weighed a healthy 170 pounds the last time Mae saw him, Ho escaped China weighing a mere 100 pounds. Mae and Ho reunited permanently in 1964 when Ted was 17 and lived in Georgia for the next twenty years before settling in New Jersey in 1986.

Mae Chun Eng于1918年出生于弗吉尼亚州的诺福克,她在美国度过了少年时期,12岁时移居中国一段时间,然后回到美国完成高中学业,上大学,并于1946年在哥伦比亚大学获得硕士学位。在哥伦比亚大学期间,她是中国学生会的积极成员,并在这里遇见了Hsio Ho Chao(生于1913年,中国浙江),那天他出席了一个会议,去蹭免费餐。他们两个在上海结了婚,第二年有一个儿子特德。1949年,美和他们的儿子搬到了弗吉尼亚州。

虽然这对夫妇认为他们会迅速团聚,但Ho和Mae分开多年。作为一名女性美国公民,美无法在美国为她的丈夫申请美国签证,而且在共产党执政之后中国的迅速而不确定的变化以及Ho的航运事业使她很难回到中国。在他们分开的过程中,学訸和美每隔几天就来回发送信件和照片。他们的儿子Ted Chao捐赠了一些1951年至1952年期间Ho给Mae写的信。他文字中开放的温柔和他对战争的反思之深在他们的通信中尤为突出。他对团聚的坚定不移的渴望,他对儿子的骄傲,以及对引起战争的腐败贪婪的仇恨都是贯穿始终的主题。

Ho后来被关押在广东的一个劳教所,直到1963年,他的香港老同学们付了钱帮他出来。Ho逃离的最初三晚沿着珠江而下,白天躲在岩石中避开英国卫兵。在美最后一次见到他的时候,他还有着170磅的健康体重,而他逃离中国的时候仅有100磅。美和学訸在1964年终于团聚了,当时Ted 已经17岁,他们在乔治亚居住了20年,然后在1986年定居新泽西。

Countdown to the TCS NYC Marathon on November 3, 2019: 216 Days.

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