—An interview onTeacher LiZanYang, the Writer of TheOrigin for Local Lanes, at MengXiYuan Tourist’s Center.
I had thought that a book on the origin for local lanes could be no more than the edit of those plain introduction sprinted on those places, so I did not turn the pages until recently. It had been raining for a whole day that I had to abandon my plan to go out for a walk and got the chance to bend over my desk and read the book casually. Soon I was attracted by the words.
“This street had run parallel with the rail line with only a low wall in between. I was escaping along the wall while someone shouted in the back: ‘The prisoners are escaping! Escaping! ’‘I caught one!’ ‘I caught another.’ Then I turn westward and intentioned to run toward the south…”“While mother always saw ordinary tombs of infants and those died giving birth. She refused to lookat the tall tomb stone of a well known British missionary…”“While you stand ashore observing those rowing boats, the boatmen always row their boats in slow pace in spite ofthe scorching weather. They could always feel clear wind and work incomfortable manner. But in fact that is a hard job and no one with common will could tolerate. There used to be a local saying: ‘The hardest job under heaven are among the three: boatman, Blacksmith and Bean curd maker.” ……
One after another vivid stores revealed the origin for the streets and lanes in this city then crowned.The oral words from Teacher Li are as smooth as what printed in the book toretell those stores. He uses fluent local dialect to express himself freely. Ilet my mind went back to the scene this afternoon in MengXiYuan Tourist Center. He is a retired teacher counted as communist cadre. After retired from his post teacher Li firstly took his camera to record the stores happening in the streets and lanes of our city.His lens left us pictures where the hero save others in spite of his/her own safety, the policeman doing his duty concerning foreigner in fluent English andthe old man taking care of his dog in brain paralysis…… In this era where photos occupied the main market of mass media Teacher Li gave up his advantage in the area and took to traditional writing to recount those vivid stores that happen in the history of the city. The stores all concern the origin of specific street names or the names of the lane and for this heover came many difficulties.
“Yan (falling rise tone) JunLane (the military drill lane) was originally called Yan (falling tone) JunLane (the military lane on the dyke). DaXiRoad had been the dyke of RiverYangZi. In ancient time there are two efficient military strategies, one isfire attack and the other is flooding. The military headquarter station their armynear the dyke in prevention that the enemy should destroy the dyke then floodthe city their occupied.” “MoDao Lane (Sword Sharpening Lane) is not the one originally peoplethought. They had thought the lane was the place where ancient men grind theirknives and kill the pigs for food. It should be the place the ancient militarymen sharpen their sword and prepare for war. The ancient army use cold weaponsso sharpening sword should be an important military service. “MaPeng Lane (thestable lane) did not serve as the place for civil stable service. It used to providestable service for the army and municipal administration. In the past horseswere use for sending messages, military report and the communication between different levels of administration. ”
Teacher Li got agitatedwhile mentioning the inquiry into the name origin of a village. He told thestory as if describing a battle with himself a solder in it and full of proudfor the final victory.
There is a village in ourcity name ZhaShu Village(Feign Defeat Village)but originally the name means a village for military strategy book. In China’shistory there had been an emperor by the name of LiuYu who is ZhengJiang localborn. The emperor has a general called TanDaoJi, he is a valiant man but alwayshurt himself in every battle he fight. After one of such battle he hidedhimself in his brother and sisters home. One night Tan dream of a god. The godsaid to him that the strategy of battle is not in the valiant itself, and onemust apply plots. Then the god presented him a volume of book for war strategy.Tan read the book carefully in his dream but when he woke up the god and thebook disappeared totally. While after this incidence general Tan applied theplots in that book for which he won later victories without hurting himself. Thenhe named the village after the book for military strategy.
When it was time forculture revolution, people frequently change the original village name to keepup with the trend of “Red all over the country” Many villages abandoned their former names andadopt the then fashionable name of “Red Flag Village”, “Red Star Village”, “SunFacing village”, “Great Leap Village” and “DaZai Village” etc. The trend wentinto city ZhenJiangalso and the village head wanted to change the village name into a soundrevolutionary one to go along with the trend. But there quartered a PLA communicationbattalion, the commander had received formal military education in HuangPumilitary Academy, thus a well-learned man. The commander heard the story and calledin the village head for a talk. He said: “There are red star villages, red flagvillages, sun facing villages everywhere in the country, if war should suddenlyhappen and I report to allies that we are position in Red Flag Village forthere are thousands of such named villages how can they tell where we are? If youchange the name and I will indict you to the military court. Then the villagehead got frightened and abandoned his thought.
The short interviewpresented many such stores. During the talk Teacher fill himself with pride andjoy. Though his book is just recently put on the market, it can be expectedthat the volume would soon be a guide in the tourists’ pocket and treasure ontheir book shelf. When you read the book you can never feel backward beingChinKiangnese. The confidence of the local built on the culture of the city andboom with it.