[ Jixi ] - [ 2014-07-12 11:26:40 ]
There were many factories in southern Anhui Province from 60's to early 80' of last century. Local people only knew they were called third front factories for the sack of keeping secret. Nearby villagers had a little idea of what these third front factories produced, but was conscious of maintaining secrecy. It was believed that all these factories are fortresses to defend our nation, all the young people from cities to the deep mountains are backbones of our homeland.
One can overlook rows of big and high buildings towering from mountain valleys. For these remote villages were closed and backward from 60's to 80's, villagers are amazed and curious about those huge buildings that they had never seen. Those building remain strong and solid at present. At Jixi county of Huizhou, a tiny mountainous county scatters five Third Front Factories. At my childhood, when enjoying the cool at summer night, we could hear the sounds of artillery, and gaze at brightly red warheads shooting directly upwards to the starry night sky till they vanished there. Adults keep watching while fanning themselves, scolded Soviet social imperialism, counting remaining days to the end of Soviet revisionism and imperialism, then laid on their deck chair proudly and comfortably. Those third front factories did bring confidence and ride to the dwellers of this county.
People suddenly appear tiny after entering those buildings. The dormitories of the factory can accommodate several hundreds of workers. We can image what a lively and prosperous place it was. Though these third front factories had settled down in the mountains, but they were cities in the mountains. Villagers admired those tall buildings in narrow valleys since they had never seen any tall builings over 5 floors. It was incredible to build those buildings as high as surrounding hills for those villagers who had never been outside of the mountains all their lives. Those dormitaries for third front factory workers remains, but had long been left over and empty. There are no more workers who were once young and came here for their ideal. I admire those young people, also agree that the years have flown.
Since those dorms were built in valleys, some in flat area, some along the slope. Cement steps on the left and cement ground in the middle of the path remain well even several dozens of years has passed by. Right here at that time we could buy sugar with planning tickets or personal connections, it was delicious to have rice with sugar at the dining room of the factory. The rice of the third front factory was from Jiangsu, fragrant and soft, sweat as glutinous rice. Having this rice with sugar was my childhood pleasant memory that has never been wiped out. For our staple were brown rice from rice station in which they had been stored for many years and naturally lost their flavor and taste. It was a great lure for children in nearby villages at a day's three meal times when mountain winds brought the pleasant smell from the dining rooms of third front factories.
All those electric wires had been densely put up during 60's in the deep mountains in Jixi County. There were no road lamps at downtown of the county while at night of summer young people got together enjoying the cool, chatting, reading, playing musical instruments under bright street lamps where always indicates the happy party of young people from 3rd front factories at night. Workers of those factories, who came mostly from Shanghai, were smart and talented. On the culture square displayed their works of painting, calligraphy, poem and other form of literature. Local people could enjoy model opera, revolutionary dance, revolutionary poem recitation, and chorus. Among all of those shows, sonorous flute at nightfall was the most unforgettable during the days that lacked culture and fun.
In front of us is the disused workshop in which those young people were once working, who should be old and grey today. At that time young workers off duty would visit villages or downtown after dinner. Rural life is new and fresh to them. They'd like to be guests at villagers' or county dwellers'. They'd bring some rare articles of daily life such as white rabbit candy to their local friends who will also give back some local products such as pecan, corn, sweat potato and salted bamboo shoots. They also can buy timber at a lower price for making their furniture for marriage. At summer night they also went to catch frogs, hence local people found this delicacy in paddy fields. (Later local people understood frogs are beneficial to their farming, rarely ate them.) The workshop became a farmers' storehouse with a pile of woods in the front.
This is an iron aqueduct to collect spring water within the factory. It was disused and covered with green vine and grass. All the drinking water that comes from the mountain spring tastes pretty good. Here was once boisterous whenever there was outside movie was arranged in summer. Children ran and played, drank some spring water when thirsty, and go on playing games before the show. In order to enrich people's lives, third front factories played a special movie for local villagers on weekends. Once there was a movie, the news spread quickly like through optical fiber. All the villagers within a circumference of 20 kilometers came for the movie on foot, by tractor and truck. Wealthy people in downtown of county may come earlier by bicycle. In no time the cultural square was thronged with people. There was only one movie screen at a starry night, but it wouldn’t curb people's will to see a movie. If they could not find a position in the square, they would climb up to a tree, a roof, or even a hill nearby. If they could not find a place in front of the movie screen, they would sit in rows behind it. Some audience in front of the screen burst into laughter, those behind the screen were also happy with it. Those who even couldn't find a place behind the movie screen, just squeezed themselves into the ridge of paddy, listened to the movie with relish in a distance, with stars up high.
This is an old door of dorm in a third front factory. Its lock has been changed, and the door remains solid, but where are its original habitants? In the mid 80's, factory's production had come to a halt, many worked returned to their original cities one after another, eventually those third front factories had fallen into disuse, and been taken over by local government. Those lively and vigorous valleys suddenly fell into silence; those memorable days had gone for ever. What's left are those high buildings, empty workshops, deserted dinning room, nails and wires on the ground and spoiled films at corner. The memory of the days is still nice, the longer the mellower. Deeply cherish the nice surprise the third front factories once offered, deeply respect the youth of that age.
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