National Geographic : 1979 Oct
The living exhibited fortitude, courage, and immense goodwill toward U. S. fliers. Throughout free China they rose, Chen nault wrote, like "human ant heaps... to turn mud, rock, lime, and sweat into 5,000 foot runways...." They repaired bombed airfields with incredible speed. When American pilots were shot down over enemy territory, individual Chinese risked their lives to hide them and guide them safely back to base. "On two occasions I probably would have died without their help," said John Alison. "One dark night when my plane went down in flames, I was rescued from the river by a young Chinese." As the Japanese advanced, hordes of resi dents fled. Americans methodically blasted their base to bits as they pulled out. The end of the war saw the end of old Guilin. NLY THE PLUM BLOSSOMS remain of the city White knew. Now Americans come as tourists, not heroes. All missionaries were ordered out in 1951, and no Christians now worship openly in Guilin. Also gone, but not missed, are cholera, smallpox, and other communicable diseases. The gaudiest entertainment now to be found is in the traditional opera house, the new music hall, and the two movie theaters (admission 22 cents for new films, 17 cents for old films; students pay only 5 cents). Mixed with the Chinese films billed for the coming weeks were four Charlie Chaplin classics: The Kid (1921), The Circus (1928), The Great Dictator (1940), and Limelight (1952). The biggest crowds gathered where the 1978 U. S. film Convoy, starring Kris Kristofferson, was showing. One evening we attended a musical with the Leung family. Paul translated the lyrics. The leading lady danced with a red flower, to be awarded to one of the boys as a symbol of her affection. She seductively withheld it, explaining in song: "For years we have praised the workers and the peasants and ig nored the scientists. I am saving my flower Lesson in English is chalked on a schoolyard, reflecting an eagerness to learn. English has replaced Russian as China's second language.