I initially thought that Yeye had never worked, born with the silver spoon. Now talking with Lucy and Jiujiu did I learned in fact he actually had jobs. Nothing grand or fancy. But he did. When his father were still around, he had minor position in the government. After his dad passed away, he had minorer position in the government. When Mao came, he took a gig at Tibet/Mongolia Association that funded by the government. When the association wanted to send him to Inner Mongolia, Yeye bit them good bye and became a yugong. The money was too little for him to care. So Yeye and Nainai continuously living extravagantly, selling whatever was in sight to support their life style. When there was nothing to be sold, they sold the south wing in 1965 for a 40,000 to 60,000 yuan. Then again sold east/west wings for 40,000 in April 1966. In the early 70s, Yeye wrote to Lucy about his plight in Beijing. Lucy persuaded Lily to fork over US$50 every quarter to support their older brother and his concubine. Lucy would send more on Chinese New Year and Yeye’s birthday. After Yeye’s passed away, Lily stopped her share but Lucy continued till Nainai passed away. In around 1974, a friend of Yeye told him to apply for retirement check because he just did. Yeye followed the suit and got 40 yuan a month. Not much, but covered the maid comfortably.
Before the economy finally took off, 30 yuan was the bench mark for a factory work or a maid. Both parents work. I often preach that Chinese women enjoy the most equal treatment, women having to work and produced as much as the husband. There was no reason they shouldn’t be respected.
Yeye and Nainai always ate well. Nainai was an extreamly hosptiable hostess, she cooked really well. Banquet every night at Canzheng Hutong. In light of shortage of everything and rations, 巧妇难为无米之炊 did apply to her. With few eggs, she could make feast. Most families survivied on 60 yuan a month, Yeye and Nainai lived on 220 a month budget. With that, they bought high priced produces and staples. I was never prive to their finances, but the way they lived as if they still had a trust fund or gold mine. Don mentioned that after Yeye passed away (he was still in Beijing), Nainai spent without a break. “Every one was bit nervous. ..” Jiujiu said when Nainai died in 1986, there was only 2,000 yuan or so in the bank.