Rough Quarters

We arrived in Xi’an in August, 1981. The weather was overcast nearly every day for our first month there. Without a sunrise and sunset, it was difficult to get oriented; my sense of direction was messed up.

I hadn’t known what to expect, coming to Asia. I’d only been outside North America once, visiting Italy in March, 1981, to meet Gauss’s relatives there. I was fine with staying in no-frills European pensions with a bathroom down the hall, but was completely unprepared for China’s gray concrete architecture and haphazard wiring.


Washing jeans on a washboard in our rough cement tub in our rough cement bathroom.


Our kitchen was a plain cement box with a cement sink and cold running water. Washing in an enameled metal basin. The two giant red Thermoses contain boiled water for drinking.


Gauss in our living room. Painted wood floors. Exposed pipes. BUT…we had radiators, which meant heat from November first until March first, a rare privilege reserved for the foreign teachers. Not visible: the spittoon that came standard with the apartment.


New Old Photos—Arriving in China, 1981

Just this week we got several of my husband Gauss’s slides from our time in China in 1981-82 digitized. Here’s a look back to life in the slow lane.

The first two photos are of our trip from Guangzhou to Xi’an. To read the story behind them, revisit this early post: White Rabbit


Patti in the waiting room of the Guangzhou airport, ready to leave for Xi’an, July 1981. Note rattan furniture (it was HOT) and ashtray. Photo © Gauss Rescigno.


Getting back on the plane at Changsha airport. It was dinnertime and they didn’t serve food in flight, so we landed, everyone got off and walked to a dining room, ate, and got back on. Nobody left the flight or joined the flight at this stop. It was just like the Greyhound bus pulling off the interstate to a Hardee’s to eat. Photo ©Gauss Rescigno.


Writing on the balcony of our apartment at Jiaotong University, August 1981. I’m could be composing teaching materials, writing in my diary, writing a letter home, or correcting someone’s homework. Photo ©Gauss Rescigno.


Lunch break with students at the hot springs at Lintong, one of our early field trips. Left to right: Arthur, Martin, Michael, Patti, Aaron Li. Photo ©Gauss Rescigno.

I’ll be adding more photos as they become available, so check back in a week or two.