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J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
35
F
OCUS ON
FS R
EFLECT IONS
U
NTIL
W
E
M
EET
A
GAIN
y mother, Mary
Lou Sander Clough, had just turned 31 when our family
arrived in Shanghai toward the end of the Chinese Civil
War in February 1950. She was married to my Foreign
Service officer father, Ralph N. Clough, and was the
mother of two sons: Fred, 6, and me, 4.
Though young, Mary Lou was a veteran diplomatic wife
who had learned Spanish in Honduras and Mandarin in
China, and had ventured outside the foreign enclaves in
both countries to engage with the local people as a volun-
teer. In Tegucigalpa, she had taught in a school for deaf
children; in Beijing, she had bicycled across the city to
teach an adult class in English. And in Nanjing, she had
spent long hours raising money for the YWCA and work-
ing at a feeding station the organization had set up to care
for the thousands of refugees from civil war and famine.
It was a tense time. In 1948 Ralph had volunteered
with other young officers to stay behind in China to rep-
resent the United States after the Nationalists had lost the
north to the Red Army. He was sorely needed as a certi-
fied Chinese-language officer; in fact, he was the only flu-
ent Mandarin-speaking American other than Ambassa-
dor Stuart left in the embassy, which was located in Nan-
jing at that time.
Staying in China was not just my father’s choice, but my
mother’s, as well. In November 1948, following embassy
directions, she had reported with other Foreign Service
women and children for evacuation from Nanjing to a
refugee camp near Manila. But in February 1949, she dis-
obeyed explicit State Department orders and flew with my
brother and me back to China to be with her husband.
One Separation Is Enough
My parents had been separated once before and hated
it. In February 1945, my father was ordered back from
Tegucigalpa to Seattle for a draft physical. He failed due
to bad eyesight, and the State Department sent him on a
temporary assignment toWashington, D.C. Because there
was no housing available in the city, my mother, pregnant
with her second child (me), stayed behind with her par-
ents.
She could not have foreseen that her family would not
O
N THE EVE OF
M
AO
S VICTORY IN
1949,
A
F
OREIGN
S
ERVICE WIFE BREAKS EXPLICIT
S
TATE
D
EPARTMENT
ORDERS SO SHE CAN REUNITE HER FAMILY
.
B
Y
M
ARSHALL
S. C
LOUGH
Marshall S. Clough was a Foreign Service child who grew
up at posts in China, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Britain and
Taiwan. He recently retired after 36 years as a professor
at the University of Northern Colorado, and has published
three books on the history of 20th-century Kenya. This ar-
ticle is excerpted from his current project, a book about his
mother and father.