Muriel Hoopes, 81, has seen much during her half century in China -- war, revolution, her small son's death -- but what remains in her mind is the station wagon that took her and her husband off to jail on July 8,1968.

"They put me in with three Chinese ladies who had evidently done something they didn't like," said Hoopes, one of a handful of Americans who experienced the pain of the Cultural Revolution there. "I had to go to the toilet in the corner like a kid. I passed my 70th birthday inside. I never beliveved that would happen to me when I was born."

She was freed after nine months but her husband remained in confinement until 1972, and was severely beaten at least once. He had been a physicist, president of a prominent Shanghai college national general secretary of the YMCA and member of a communist-organized united front group. He had the bad luck to have a University of Chicago doctrate when a wave of intense xenophobia swept China. It apparently ended his hopes for a new and progressive China, the hopes that had led him to stay when the Communists took over.

Hoopes, husband, Tu Yuqing, died in 1975, refusing ever to tell his family much of what he suffered or what he felt after his 4 1/2-year confinement.

But his memory, both the pridee and the bitternest, remains with his four children -- one engineer and three doctors -- and with his peppery wife, the young American woman he met on the New York subway in 1919.

"The Communists have done some very good things," said Hoopes, sitting in her chilly Shanghai apartment in a thick padded coat, pants and boots, with a blue knitted poncho and purple head scrarf. "But I don't think communism is the next stop before utopia. When the Red Guards told me, "You do not seem to like China,' I said, 'Well, there are some things I don't like. But rembember that I maried a man, not a country.

The love story of Tu Yuquing and Muriel Hoopes, married nearly 61 years, ago after a whirlwind two-month courtship, follows all the great surges and collapses of 20th-century China -- the fall of the Ching Dynasty, the rise of the Nationalist Party, the passion for Western learning, the Japanese invasion the communist liberation, the chaotic Cultural Revolution and the shift back to more humane politics and renewed Western contact before and after the death of Chairman Mao Tse-tung.

Like many other victims of the Cultural Revolution, Tu was rehabilitated posthumously, at a special ceremony two months ago, a gesture his widow and children appreciated. The government also moved his ashes to a martyrs' cemetery, Hoopes, alert and full of wisecracks, considered this a useless act.

"It's not just his ashes but nine or 10 other people they burned at the same time. There is a man there who rakes some of this great bunch of ashes into each little container, like a croupier at Las Vegas," she said. "My view is when you're dead, you're dead for a very long time. But two of my daughters cared about it."

Tu was a graduate student, a whiz kid who had won one of the Boxer Rebellion indemnity scholarships. In 1919 he found himself jammed up against a 20-year-old railroad office secretary on an uptown Manhattan subway. A conversation began and Hoopes asked, "Are you a Japanese?"

"Oh, no!" Tu said indignantly, for it was a time when patriotic Chinese recoiled at the demands being made on the weak Peking government by the Japanese.

"I'm Chinese." he said. "Are you American-born?"

"Yes, my family goes back to 1683," Hoopes said.

"He was getting off at 100th Street and I was living at 202nd Street," she reminisced, "but he said, 'How about getting off and we can talk a bit.' So I did."

They met in April and were married June 7, 1919, just around the corner from the McAlpin hotel.

Hoopes, from Lansdowne, Pa., had been orphaned at six and her adoptive parents were shocked when she told them about Tu.

"How could you marry a Chinese and lose your citizenship?" her father asked. Under one of the anti-Asian immigration laws of that day. Americans renounced their rights automatically upon marrying a Chinese or Japanese.

She traveled back with Tu as far as Tokyo, then got a secretarial job while he went to Nanking to break the news to his parents.

In Japan, Hoopes decided "I would not like China. I saw the Chinese restaurants there had chickens out in front of the door, and it was so dark and dirty, but [Tu] said 'that's Cantonese. We're going to Nanking."

Their first daughter. Anna, now a government physician working temporarily in England on a United Nations project, was born in 1924. A son was born, but he died after they moved to Shanghai during the Japanese occupation. Mary, Harry and Nina, all with Chinese names also, followed.

Tu became president of St. John's Niversity in Shanghai as student riots were tearing the town apart before the communist victory. Just before the fall, he became national general secretary of the YMCA, but when he returned from consultations in the United States, he stopped in Hong Kong to consider what to do about returning to a now communist China.

He sent a message to his wife through a friend returning to Shanghai: "If she thinks it is better, then bring the children out." Hoopes telegraphed back, "You have studied for China, you must come back and give it to China." b

Tu assumed a role as a leading "democratic personage," part of the communist effort to rally support from sympathetic intellectuals and non-Communists. The family was given relatively spacious quarters and few people took note of Hoopes. "They thought I was a Russian." she said.

Anna and her husband, both medical students, left for study in the United States just before the communist victory. They became doctors and worked in Elizabeth, N.J., and had four children. Tu and Hoopes encouraged them to return to China.

"I wrote and wrote, and said you ought to come back, but don't expect a private practice and private car," yhoopes said. Tu asked his daughter. "Don't you want to serve the people?"

They returned in 1957, to suffer along with Anna's parents the next two decades. Now, Anna's husband is head of surgery at Shanghai's Zhongshan Hospital.

When Anna's children returned with her, "They could fight and holler and say anything in English, then came the Cultural Revolution and Mao didn't seem to be in control. Mrs. Mao seemed in control. All the kids at school seemed to turn against them.

"They said, 'Oh you're filthy Americans, you think everything American is good. Go sit in the corner!" Finally we were told it was better they didn't speak English, and they forgot it, through I think it sticks in the throat, because the teacher says they pronounce it well now that they're trying to learn it again."

When the Culutral Revolution hit with full force, particulaly in radical-controlled Shanghai, Tu was detained in a temporary jail near the airport.

During Hoopes' detention, "It was a hard life. I was cold all the time. I was studying my Little Red Book [of the quotes of Mao] and I have kept it as a keepsake." Hoopes said. She pulled out of a drawer a faded y copy bound with a rubber band to keep the pages from falling out.

"The Chinese see this now and say, 'You shouldn't have that,' but I still like some of the things in here. The fellow was a country bumpkin and he rose to be somebody."

Is the introduction by then defense minister Lin Biao now dammed as a traitor, still in Hoopes' copy? "No, no, I took it out, of course. Saftey first!

"I was a sitting duck because of my husband. They took us into the air raid shelter. I gave an answer they didn't like and they hit me on the head and my glasses went whoop! I said, 'That is no Mao's way of doing things. I don't care if you hit me. I'm going to tell the truth.'"

She complained and did not see the interrogator again.

Tu, she later learned, "got to the point where he was groaning at night, so one soldier took him out to a tiny shack. They tied him up and the soldier said, 'I'll teach you not to groan at night.' He hit him in the face with a straw rope. If there was anything else they did, he didn't say."

After she was allowed to see him again, "We had a little family gathering, and tried to get him to talk, but he didn't want to talk. 'Are you disillusioned?' somebody finally asked. 'Yes,' he said. He had high hopes for something better."

Their one son, Harry, or Tu Jizhen, now 46, is a coal and metallurgy engineer in Peking, and for the moment is also discouraged. A bureaucratic squabble, Hoopes said has held up his chanches to study at Utah University, but the rehabilitation of his father appears to have improved his chances.

Hoopes has little money to help him. She lives on about $60 a month, from pensions and her former service as an English teacher.

U.S. embassy officials have assured Hoopes she can regain her citizenship if she wants it. Would she like to see the United States again?

"Sure I'd like to go. Who wouldn't like to go?" she said, rubbing thumb and forefinger together. "But where's the dough, re, mi?"