Saturday, May 31, 2008
Today Kent Mathieu sent in some photos of the area that he took in 2006. He also provided a link to the bakery's website. Do you suppose they'd consider a delivery to Illinois?
During my visit to Taipei in 2006, we walked south on ChungShan North Road from the old Navy Exchange area and we stopped at the Florida Bakery for a snack. These photographs were taken inside the bakery shop. You can see the shop and some of the racks of goodies. The folks you see are my family members.
After a short rest, we walked a few doors down ChungShan North Road and discovered the walkway front entrance to the old Back Alley Market.
Careful; if you walk too fast, you will miss the entrance.
The hallway looks much cleaner today than the old area that I remember from the mid-1960s.
As the hallway ends, we step into the Back Alley Market and immediately see a customer ordering up a live chicken, probably destined for tonight's dinner.
These photographs were taken early on a Saturday morning and the stalls were just starting to open.
Friday, May 30, 2008
It's my understanding that other pilots defected with other aircraft over the years, but this was the first MIG-15 to arrive intact on Taiwan. Sarj recently sent me another shot that he took of the aircraft that day and it's presented here.
This view came from Google Earth and I added stick-pins to show where the compounds were, as well as the Linkou Club Annex (during 1973-74 anyway), the Club 63 and the Grand Hotel.
In the lower right, you'll see the end of the runway at the airport. Anyone who ever lived in the hostel became very familiar with the roar of jet aircraft coming in on final approach because they flew directly over those buildings.
He says this was looking down and to the left as you approached the residence from the Grass Mountain Park side.
Yeah, I think I could live in that neighborhood.
We were told never to buy mixed drinks in town because the ice was sometimes made from Taipei tap water, which contained all sorts of nasty critters. I read somewhere recently that it's still like that.
So unless you enjoyed drinking sugary soft drinks, then you probably cooled off with a cold beer...or two. A favorite of many throughout the Far East was the Philippine export, San Miguel. It seems to have been the favorite of Sarj Bloom's parakeet as well.
By the way, I had always heard that the San Miguel brewery was mostly owned by the family of General MacArthur. It's probably just another GI rumor, but has anyone else ever heard that?
Madame Chiang is to the right of the Generalissimo. Interestingly, she is smoking in these photos, as many of us did in those days. It apparently didn't hurt her too badly because she died in her Manhattan apartment in 2003 at the ripe old age of 105.
When I was at TDC, Chiang Kai-shek had not been seen in public for quite some time and the rumor was that he had passed, but the government would not acknowledge that until Mao Tse-tung also died. It sounds like a typical GI rumor, but then again, who knows?
Another rumor was that Madame Chiang was the owner of the Grand Hotel. Actually, that one was usually stated as fact. Does anyone out there know for sure?
I don't normally post Linkou material here because some of the former "Dawgs" maintain an outstanding website of their own. However, I was drawn to these photos because to me they represent all of the deserted US military installations that I've visited here in the States and around the world. You can find pictures of these three buildings as they were "back in the day" at the Linkou website.
It's hard to describe the feeling when you see formerly manicured lawns that are now overgrown with weeds and once bustling communities that are now nothing more than disintegrating structures and crumbling pavement. It's all progress, I suppose, but I'm always saddened whenever I see it.
Anyway, that got me thinking about the USTDC building and the entire HSA compound. After our departure in 1979, I understand that they had some limited use by the Taiwan government but remained pretty much as they were for several years. Back in November, I posted several photos taken by Les Duffin in 1984 that showed the compound area as it was then, five years after closure. That means that everything was demolished sometime after 1984.
I was told by an American civilian living in Taipei a couple of years ago that the property stayed vacant for quite some time after demolition and before today's art museum, park and sports stadium were built. Does anyone have details of that period, or a timeline, or even some photos? If so, I'd sure love to record that information here.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Here's a photo of two of the Chinese Coolies that worked around the building and kept the generators running. The generators were in the building right next to the lab. These guys would come in often. They all wanted to learn English so much.Good photo, Sarj. I don't think we were still being powered by generators in 73-74, but I can't say for sure. I do remember the guys who used to spend a lot of time sprucing up the inside of the building. It seems to me that there was paneling that needed oiling but I know that the door plates were all brass and those guys kept them gleaming!
There was on older man in particular that I befriended and he was a nice gentleman. I tried to teach him a little English and he would teach me some Chinese. They had a small hibachi and would heat their meals outside the generator building.
I thought their lunch boxes were very unique. they were aluminum, I think, and had another container inside that kept the fish or whatever separated form the rice and veggies in the main compartment. I had some of these around for years...Does anyone remember the little lunch containers?
Actually, the camera obscura was an early ancestor of the camera. While at USTDC, Sarj Bloom decided to make one, using a shoe box for the housing, and he used it to take this picture of one of the photo lab guys. The negative image is at the top and the positive image is below it. It's a little grainy but remarkably good considering what he was working with.
But what really caught my attention in this picture was the knife switch located on the wall, below and to the right of the air conditioner. I had the same setup for the air conditioner in my office at TDC as well as in my room at the hostel. I often saw them at other locations around town.
About the only time you'll ever see one of those today is in big industrial applications (e.g. Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory) or in school science projects where you want to control the current from a battery to some small electrical gadget. They're considered way too dangerous for normal applications.
They had a porcelain handle for toggling the switch up or down, but everything else was exposed metal, including the wiring. I used these switches to turn the air conditioners on and off and I was always fearful that I'd brush up against the hot contact and get fried right on the spot.
I somehow survived the knife switches and I trust that nobody in Taiwan is using them today.
I have some catching up to do so I think I'll begin with a note that I received from Sarj Bloom recently. He was on one of those mental strolls down memory lane that we all make from time to time and he describes what he saw:
OK, here's a trip down Chung Shan Pae Lu that I have been taking in my mind. I'm headed south past the compound where the PX is located. On the left, the next place I see is the Linkou Club. As usual, there is a line of pedicabs waiting for GIs to transport.
I go on farther down the street and now on the left is a Tailor Shop. this is where I got a sports jacket made and a dozen white shirts. I was still into Ivy League stuff and still prefer short sleeve white shirts with button down collars. Now these shirts, if you remember, had a button in the back also. I think the shirts cost like $2 each? Maybe it was less; I just know it was cheap.
OK, now past the tailor shop and down the street some and there on the right is the Datsun "Blue Bird" factory. It was sort of a secret that Datsun was the company, maybe because it was still too soon after WWll. Now these cars were the number one choice for taxis and I tell you they drove those things like kamikazes flying up and down the streets. At night, like the city buses, they drove without their lights. I was told they did so to save electricity. I only rode in one taxi while I was there. I had a car and if I didn't want to drive I took a pedicab. I never did have enough nerve to take a city bus. I wonder if anyone reading this ever took a city bus in those days?
OK, now we are at the alley on the right side of the street again that goes back to the Navy Club and across the street on the left I see the bake shop where I used to buy cakes. This bakery had sacks of flour on the with a picture of two hands shaking and the words, "From the people of the
I'm not certain that this is geographically correct but that is how I remember it and I believe it was all within a mile of two at the most. I wonder if anyone agrees with this.
I believe the street is called Sung Shan North Road today. But I know for sure that back in the 70s I could tell any taxi driver in the city to take me to "Shung Shan Pae Lu," as you said, and he'd take me straight to the compound area. Of course the fact that I was an American, and obviously military, probably helped him figure out where I wanted to go. If I'd told him to take me to San Francisco, he'd probably have nodded his head and gone straight to the compound.
I don't think there were any pedicabs still around when I was there. Taxis were the primary mode of travel, though several of my friends took buses from time to time. As inexpensive as taxis were (to us) the buses were far cheaper -- just a few NT, as I recall.
I remember taxi drivers turning off their headlights (and sometimes their engines) whenever they had to stop at an intersection. I figured it was to extend the life of the headlights but always wondered if turning them on and off all the time didn't actually reduce it.
I sure remember the ivy league style shirts, and many of my shirts still have buttons on the tabs. I don't think any of them still have the button in the back though. We used to call them "Dobie Gillis shirts" when I was a teenager.
I was never at the Navy Club, nor do I recall any of the navy guys mentioning it when I was in Taipei. The R&R flights had ended by 1973 so local military guys would probably have been about their only customers, assuming they were still in business at that location. Does anyone have a photo of the exterior of the Navy Club? If so, send it to me and I'll be happy to post it.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Here are some pictures and a news clipping of Vice Admiral Melson visiting Kinmen Island. Our 3rd class PH Gallegher was assigned to go shoot the photos. When I first arrived I had always heard of Quemoy and Matsu the offshore Islands that were always in danger of getting overrun by the Red Chinese. Kinmen was not a name I was that familiar with until later and I always wondered what happened to Quemoy. Well, I checked out this site and found out it is just another name for Kinmen. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinmen.
As you can see from the photographs propaganda balloons were sent over regularly and they said that loudspeakers would also pump out propaganda in both directions.
I remember hearing about those balloons and speakers when I was at USTDC in 1973-74. As I recall (no guarantee of accuracy these days, sad to say), the prevailing wind was from east to west, so the balloons could be launched from the Taiwan side but not from the other side.
I also remember a conversation that I had with a civilian friend one weekend at the Club 63 stag bar. He worked for some American corporation and used to drop by the stag bar from time to time because nobody ever asked for ID cards in there. Anyway, he mentioned that he'd just returned from a trip to Kinmen. During a previous trip there he noticed that only about half of their speakers were working. He did some troubleshooting, discovered the problem and fixed it. Now the speakers could really boom out toward the mainland again!
Well, on his latest trip he noticed that only about half the speakers were working again. He asked one of the Chinese soldiers what happened and the guy said, "Oh, we turned them off because they were just too noisy for us!"
Here's a trivia question courtesy of your faithful TDC blogster: What ever happened to Ms. Amedee Chabot, Miss USA 1963? Well, if you ever want to buy a classy pad in the Merced area, click here.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Here's Stev's account of his trip:
I don't know who the Chinese mistook me for, but they had me inspect the ship 3 times on the trip to Keelung. Eight hours after we left Matsu, we arrived in Keelung's harbor.
Here's a picture of the people from our J-24 section at our favorite place, the Mongolian Bar-B-Q down along the river someplace. I believe this is my farewell party.
On the left in front is my buddy "Zip" Zimmerman, now retired PHC and living in England. On the right is the Army major who was also in the change-of-command photo. The AF Lt Colonel (McNulty?) standing was also in the change-of-command photo. Behind him is our PHC Dumas with his girl friend (the same girl that was with him in the earthquake photo).
As for the rest of the folks, I can remember their faces but not their names. There is one guy that I would know even with his back turned toward the camera and that is LI1 Donald Moak, our lithographer. He is in the background on the right talking to people at a table. That is Moak's wife at the far end in the center at the head of the table.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Kent Mathieu sent me a link to the history of this club, and what its descendant is doing today. Sounds like a good place for veterans to check out when visiting Taipei.
Sarj Bloom sent in these items from the Navy Club. I'm fairly certain that it was no longer there by the time I arrived at USTDC in 1973. Many of my friends were navy people and I'm sure someone would have mentioned it somewhere along the line. I believe that R&R flights to Taipei had been discontinued by then so maybe it closed at that time. Does anyone know?
Here are Sarj's photo and comments:
I know I said the Club 63 was the best place in town to eat, but I forgot to mention another place just as good and a lot more intimate. The Navy Club (Fleet Reserve Association) just down Shung Shan Rd. from the compounds, maybe a mile, was in the back of a building on the main street. You went down an alley and into the parking lot.
The downstairs had a bar and on the other side of the bar, through a door, were the slot machines. In the slot machine room there was a small office with a window much like a ticket window. Upstairs was the restaurant, bandstand and dance floor. It wasn't a very big room but very comfortable and had great service.
On payday I would go to the Navy Club and buy a "chit" at that little ticket / change window. The chit would be for dinner and drinks for anytime in the future. Then when it got near payday again and I didn't have much money my wife and I would go to the club and have dinner and drinks and then go gamble the last of our cash on the machines. We would go home broke but knew that in the morning I would get another check. The picture of my wife and me at the slots was taken by someone at the club, probably sometime in 1963.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Sarj just sent me another photo of that event, this one showing all of the other officers who participated. Here's his narrative:
I don't recognize too many of the officers, but maybe others will. Starting at the left, the first officer I recognize is an AF Lt. Colonel -- I think his name was McNulty -- and next to him an Army Major. They were both in our section, J-24I. Further to the left and in the front between two Navy officers is AF Colonel Boggs. I remember Boggs because he was the only one who wrote to me when I was hospitalized at Clark AF Base in the Philippines for an eye injury.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
He couldn't remember how much the monthly dues were but, like everything else in those days, they wouldn't have been very much. I honestly don't remember paying any dues or even having a membership card when I was there. Was it possible that the navy didn't charge dues? I think they took over the operation of the club not very long after I arrived at TDC in 1973.
Here's Stev's account:
Left to right are Madame Chiang, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, Mrs. Melson and Vice Admiral Melson.
Here are his comments:
Three of us bought a 1947, 4 door Studebaker for $400.00 for the 18 months we were there and sold it for $ 400.00 when we left.
One more thing, Al Meyer and I took the first class test there six weeks before we were discharged and we did not open the questions but took the answer sheet and blindly checked the answers off by saying "tic, tac, toe."
Does anyone recognize any of the names on this certificate?
Here are a couple of photos of my car navigating the river bank that we had to drive along for a very long distance. The main highway was shut down because of a rock and mud slide and this river bank, which was actually part of the dry part of the river, became our road. It was ridiculous as you can see.
My wife and her two guests, Chinese American young women, had to get out of the car so it didn't hit bottom as badly. To top this off, a bottle of Pepsi blew up in the back seat and injured one of the girls.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Sarj Bloom sends a collage of photographs that were taken during the 1962 Bob Hope Christmas USO Tour.
Sarj's comments follow:
Hopefully some of the visitors to the site will remember this show. I remember it being downtown but can't remember where. Stev has a better memory than me of places and locations, and maybe he or someone else who was there can name the building.
Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Taiwan, Philippines, Guam
I tried to look up details of the quake but with no luck. I remember everyone saying it was one of the worst in quite some time. Maybe it was a 6.0?
Here's another photo of the First Hotel as it looked then, and as it looks today. Still standing!
Serenity is defined as the absence of mental stress or anxiety; peace of mind; repose. That's a good description of what I see in these photos of the park.
The view here is to the south, in the general direction of USTDC and the HSA compound. From the photos I've seen, that whole skyline certainly looks quite different today!
Going left on that road took you toward the zoo, Chungshan N. Road, and the Keelung River Bridge.
This is a view from the bridge.
The Grass Mountain area is shrouded in clouds.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
In one of the other photos there was a corrugated steel awning over the main entrance, but in these photos there was no awning at all. During my time at TDC ('73-'74), the entrance had been remodeled a bit, including a permanent awning. No doubt there were a lot of other changes to the building over the years.
A few people have asked about the history of this building. Some say it was built by the Japanese and one person said he heard that it might have been used as a prison.
Any other ideas?