My mom has many odd stories to tell from her childhood - from how Bing Crosby would toss his hat to how her pet alligator got too "snappy". So perhaps it isn't a surprise that I never thought too much about her Chinese brothers. Sometime in her teens, my mother's family had somehow "adopted" a couple of Chinese pilots who were training in southern California. I finally got around to asking her how that came to be. She said, "Oh, that was all me!"
Fourteen year old Jeanne Roush went with her mother and sister Carol to a Christian Service Organization event in Long Beach, California for American soldiers, a kind of USO. The year was 1944. Intrigued by some Chinese soldiers, she went to play ping pong with them. When they explained to her that they were now our allies she invited them to her home for a Sunday dinner. Her sister Carol was "shocked" by this saying that she would get in a lot of trouble. But Jeanne said it would be ok, since they frequently had soldiers over for Sunday dinners. As it turned out their mother, Honore, was very supportive. And so began a close relationship that lasted many years.
The US had decided to start training Chinese Air Cadets in America. This Newsreel talks about the program. My mom attended the graduation shown at the end.
Ching-Lee wrote to his American "mother", my grandmother, on the back of the picture below with his instructor. Ching Lee is wearing a Chinese Republican Army hat and uniform seen in the video.