Palanquin with bride being carried to wedding on country road leading to Tienstin, spring 1946
In 1946 I was a Marine Corps 2nd Lieutenant, stationed in Tientsin (Tianjin / 天津) in the civil affairs section. My duties were to help civilians return to Europe or America after release from Japanese Internment camps or reestablish themselves in China. We also helped reopen businesses , schools, and return of automobiles, apartments and homes.
I often had afternoons with no duties so I would roam around the city with my camera and talk to local Chinese. Before going to China I had two months of a four month class in Mandarin Chinese and comfortable knowledge of the Chow Zhou dialect. By going out on the streets and talking to people it helped me develop my Mandarin dialect. Some times I would meet Chinese who insisted this American officer could not speak Chinese, even if I said " Wah whei shou Zhong GUo hua (我会说中国话)."
I would see children and adults that looked interesting and ask if I could photograph them. Most were quite happy to let me take their pictures. Where possible I"d try to get them at their work, play or interaction with others.
When I returned to the States I returned to the University of Redlands to complete my BA. There I had access to a dark room and developed my pictures and then filed them away after making prints of just a few. Since then up to about 2006 I was busy finishing my school work, becoming a psychologist, getting married and fathering two children. A few years ago my wife urged me to go through my stuff and get rid of some of it. I found the negatives and a few 5 by 7 enlargements which looked interesting. I approached Robert Gohstand of the Old China Hands Archives in our library about the negatives and he proposed we should make an exhibition of them. With his scanner and computer he was able to put together a show of 36 framed enlargements which were put on display in our library.
Recently, the Chinese National Academy of Art organized an exhibition of photographs taken by foreigners some years ago and put them on display at the Yan Huang Museum located near the Olympic Village in Beijing. The dates are December 1 to 7, 2011.
Dr. Harold Giedt
Former director of CSUN China Institute
*Image courtesy of Old China Hands Archive, Special Collections and Archives, Oviatt Library
Children browsing books for sale on Tientsin street, spring 1946
Man carrying water to a home on Tientsin street, spring 1946
Little girl selecting candy from street vendor and crowd of children's and adult watching on Tientsin Street, spring 1946
Boy spinning top on a string on Tientsin street, winter 1946
Farmer irrigating field with counter-balanced water lifting device (water scoop) in countryside near Tientsin, spring 1946
Family of boat people on Hai He river near Tangku, port of Tientsin, spring 1946
Two young girls dressed in winter outfits begging on Tianjin street in 1946.
Rickshaw man waiting for a customer on Tientsin street, spring 1946
Sawing a log into boards on Tientsin street, spring 1946