Guling – Kuliang

Milton Gardiner’s story – how a postmark made the difference

Below are some postmarks on letters with the “Kuliang” stamp on them.  It was from a post mark that Mrs. Gardner found out where her husband’s beloved boyhood home was in China.

Who are the Gardners?  What do they have to do with Guling?

Milton Gardner was the son of missionary parents in the Fuzhou area, and grew up spending summers on the mountain until he was ten years old.  In 1911 he returned to the US, and finally became a Professor of Physics at UC Davis in California, where he taught for 30 years before he retired.  For Milton, the ten years he spent in Kuliang  were the happiest years of his life.  He had hoped to get back to China to visit Kuliang, but in 1972 he suffered paralysis, and never had the chance to return.  He passed away in 1986.

His wife, Elizabeth, knew how much Kuliang had meant to her husband, and visited China several times, hoping to find the place that meant so much to her husband.  Fortunately a Chinese student who stayed at their home on a home-stay visit helped her.  Elizabeth had found stamps from China that her husband had saved, and they had a postmark.   The postmark had characters, and they read:

Guling, Fuzhou

The reason why Elizabeth couldn’t find the place was because Milton was using Fuzhou dialect to say “Guling” and had called it “Kuliang.”  So suddenly everything became clear, and Elizabeth knew that Milton’s beloved “Kuliang” was Guling.

In 1992 the Chinese student who had stayed with Elizabeth Gardner wrote an article about the story, and it was published in a newspaper in April 1992.

At the time, President Xi Jin Ping was in Fuzhou working in the government there, and read the article.  He immediately contacted Mrs. Gardner and invited her to visit her husband’s beloved childhood home.   Within a few months, Mrs. Gardner had the chance to go to China and meet with him,  visit Kuliang and even meet with her husbands childhood friends.  She brought her stamps and the letter with the postmark, and climbed the mountains in the area.  It was a dream come true.

The whole story is here:

The Story of Milton Gardner and the Kuliang postmark







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