SHANGHAI, Feb. 28, 1972 (UPI) -- Pat Nixon spent most of her week in China just the way she had wished -- mingling with the people and seeing the sights.
As she and the President spent their final full day in the country Sunday, the First Lady visited the Shanghai Children's Palace where little "Red Guards" sang revolutionary songs, showed their skill in gymnastics and ping-pong, and applauded their guest.
"They're so well rounded," Mrs. Nixon said as she toured the facility housed in a converted British colonial home.
"All the children in our country say hello to you," she told the youngsters.
The First Lady, wearing a beige jersey dress with matching shoes and beige mink coat, visited the palace after accompanying her husband and Premier Chou En-lai on a tour of a Shanghai industrial exhibition.
During that visit, Nixon joked that he wanted to keep his wife busy sightseeing so that she would not go shopping. Mrs. Nixon confided to reporters that she would like to stay longer in China "but this is D-Day."
She and Nixon left aboard the Presidential jet, "Spirit of '76," early today, after a week in China in which she was constantly on the go, visiting schools and hospitals and seeing the sights.
Although the crowds were sometimes pressing and the weather was a bitter cold during a trip to the Great Wall near Peking, the First Lady never lost her composure. She recoiled at her first sight of an acupuncture operation, but bravely carried on. She went for a walk on the dirt roads of a rural commune, a standout in the entourage in a bright red wool coat, and reminisced about her girlhood days on a California farm. She tossed food to snorting pigs before the day was finished.
Pat Nixon was clearly a hit with the Chinese, from the banquet halls to the schoolrooms where small children sang the praises of Mao Tse-tung as she smiled and tapped her foot.
And, like many other tourists, she bought a present for her husband before leaving the country, a pair of silk pajamas for $8.50.
On the eve of their departure, the Nixon's attended farewell banquet and an acrobatic show afterward. Mrs. Nixon, wearing a brocade silk dress with a diamond pin, looked on as her husband and Chou exchanged toast after toast at the dinner.
The Nixons also had a relaxed outing Saturday in Hangchow, the Chinese resort city.
The President and his wife were treated to a boat ride on West Lake and a tour of Hangchow Gardens, where already the trees are green and the flowers beginning to bloom.
Accompanied by Chou, the Nixons fed goldfish from a small bridge in the park. After she had emptied a fish food package, she handed it to an interpreter, saying: "Put that in your pocket. I don't want to throw it on the ground. I don't want to get arrested for littering."
Mrs. Nixon got out on her own frequently during the stay in Peking, while her husband was preoccupied by serious talks with Chinese officials. She spent more than an hour in the kitchen of the Peking Hotel, where she invited one of the chefs to the White House to sample her attempt at fixing Peking duck.
"I've been trying all my life to cook and I'm still not a good cook," she said with a sigh.
(Helen Thomas, who has covered Presidents and First Ladies since 1960, is a member of the UPI reporting team permanently assigned to the White House. A native of Winchester, Ky., she began her journalism career in 1942 as a reporter for the Washington, D.C., Daily News after graduation from Wayne University in Detroit. She joined UPI's Washington staff a year later.)