Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Father-in-law

In 1931, my father-in-law was 12 years old and lived in a village in Shandong Province, China, near the city of Yantai.  Because of a constant lack of food, he left home and walked 440 miles to Beijing, in a bad pair of shoes, in search of work. We assume that he hitched  rides on horse drawn wagons whenever possible. Along the way, he begged for food at people’s houses.

According to Google Maps, to walk from Yantai to Beijing would take 6 days, but that would mean walking 73 miles a day.  I don’t know if it is possible to walk at that rate for an entire week. Perhaps he stopped to work for food along the way.

In Beijing, he found work as an apprentice in a restaurant. He was not paid.  For food, he had to eat the leftover food from customers. After the restaurant closed at night, they pushed the restaurant tables together and slept on top of the tables. It was only after apprentices learned skills that they began to be paid and then only very little.