Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Amahs & Apartments & Shoes

Sarj provided these photos of his apartment in the early 1960s.

After reading the post on servants, I remembered that I had a picture of the amah who worked for Joe Kowalowski and me before I got married. I made comment on the blog that I would find the photos and scan them for you. Joe and I shared this apartment until I got married in Nov '62.

When I found the pictures and looked at them, I noticed the calendar on the wall. It's a 1962 calendar from K Shoes on Chung Shan N. Rd. I always thought of this place as K Tailors. They did do tailoring, but as the enlargement of the calendar shows, shoes were their main thing.





*** UPDATE ***
Just received this photo of K Shoes from Roger, over at the Linkou website.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Rest of the Story - Part 1 of 3

The Taiwan Report provided all sorts of nice-to-know information for those with assignments to USTDC and the entire Taipei area. Chapter 15 of the booklet covered most everything not addressed in the previous 14 chapters. I'll be posting it for the next couple of days, after which I intend to begin posting the ten page "Quick Reference" section at the back of the booklet.

One of the items addressed here is pets. The only pet I had was the little lizard that used to walk across my ceiling from time to time. I was always slightly concerned that I might sleep with my mouth open some night and...well, you can guess the rest. Luckily, that never happened -- at least as far as I know!


(To be continued)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Household Help

With my family in the States and the hostel as my home, all I knew about amahs and yard boys was what I heard from others.

I did have a houseboy at the hostel, as did most everyone else. I don't recall what I paid my guy but I'm sure it wasn't a whole lot because I couldn't afford much. I hardly needed help keeping my room straight, but I was told by others that hiring a houseboy was expected and that having him would help ensure that nothing ever got stolen.

He made my bed, shined my shoes and kept the place all neat and tidy. He also replaced my water jug whenever it got low, which cost extra and I assume that he got a piece of that. He was very helpful and trustworthy as well. One morning I accidently left a rather large amount of cash on the table in my room when I headed off to work. When I returned that evening, not only was it all there, but it was neatly sorted and stacked as well.

My friend Larry, who lived in the room next door, had a different houseboy. Larry was a great guy, but he was a bit obsessive about some things. For example, he always lined up his containers of shampoo, shaving cream, aftershave, etc., by height -- the shortest item on the left and the tallest on the right. But when he returned home after work, he'd find the tallest item on the left and the shortest on the right. The next morning, he'd set them up the way he wanted them again but when he'd get home they were reversed again. After about a week, Larry couldn't take it anymore and had a talk with the guy. I guess they got it all sorted out because he returned to his usual happy self after that.

Anyway, Chapter 14 of The Taiwan Report discusses the hiring of household help in the mid-1970s:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Old Life Magazine Taiwan Photos

Marc left a comment on one of my earlier posts that provided a link to this really great resource for old Taiwan photographs. I doubt that everyone reads all the comments, so I wanted to be sure everyone was aware of these old photographs from Life Magazine -- many of them previously unpublished.

When you get to the site, just enter either "Taiwan" or "Formosa" into the search box and then just click through the several pages of photos. Click on any one of them to see a larger version.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Policies and Support Facilities (Part 1 of 3)

Chapter 3 of the Taiwan Report (printed in 1973) discusses a whole range of topics that were helpful to new arrivals at USTDC and elsewhere in the Taipei area. Topics covered in this chapter were:
  • Leave and pass policy
  • Billeting for unaccompanied personnel (housing for singles)
  • Proper uniforms
  • Clothing sales store (military uniforms)
  • Post offices
  • Hospital
  • Dental care
  • Navy Exchange system (department store)
  • Commissary (grocery store)
  • American Embassy Shop (liquor)
  • Sponsor program
  • Child care center
  • Legal services
  • Special pay and allowances
  • Laundry and dry cleaning
  • Messing facilities (dining halls and military clubs)
You may notice that several photographs in this section (and others as well) have been previously posted on their own. Even so, I think that the actual text provides enough detail of how things were -- at least the official version -- to justify posting the whole thing.

There are ten pages in this section, so I'm posting them over a three day period.


(Continued tomorrow)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Memories, Real and Imagined

Two or three years ago, during a summer visit to my old hometown in Ohio, I had an opportunity to explore the school buildings where I spent my junior high and high school years. I hadn't entered either one since I left town to join the Air Force back in 1962.

A few things in both buildings were pretty much as I remembered them, but I was quite surprised to find that most of those empty hallways and classrooms bore only a slight resemblance to my memories of them. Both buildings were torn down this past summer, so I'm glad that I had a chance to see them before they were gone.

Though my memories of the USTDC building have dimmed over time, I suspect that many of the memories that remain are probably also flawed.

I remembered the main entrance to the building (which I think was officially called the quarterdeck) as very ornate with large columns. But a year or so ago when I received the photograph that's at the top of this blog, I saw that I had it wrong. I later received some earlier photos showing a long metal awning over that entrance, but it was gone by the time I arrived.

I remember that the ship's bell was on the right side of the porch just outside the entrance. Chief Gagne always brought his portable radio out a couple of minutes before 0800 each weekday morning so that he could hear the "beep-beep-beep-beeeep!" time signal to ensure that we raised the colors at precisely the right moment while he did the four repetitions of two bells. Things didn't always go as planned, as I wrote in this piece back in July, 2007.

I remember that the J-1's office (Director of Personnel - Admin) was to the left as you walked into the lobby. That was a Navy captain (0-6) when I was there in 73-74, but I don't remember his name. I believe he was a tall, thin guy with grayish hair.

Straight ahead, as you came in the main entrance, was the small room -- a sort of glassed in booth -- where BMC Gagne spent his days. That was also where we pulled watch at night and on weekends. There was a military bunk behind a wall in that room where we were allowed to sleep on watch between 2400 and 0500. The phones often rang at night (usually some idiot in the States who didn't know the time difference) so we often didn't get much sleep.

Just to the right of the chief's office was a stairway (with a fancy wooden railing?) that went up to the right. I remember almost nothing about the upstairs except that the admiral and the general had their offices up there. Admiral Beshany and Brigadier General Burrows filled those positions during most of my tour. Admiral Beshany was apparently a Washington Redskins fan because I remember seeing a helmet on a bookshelf in his office. I also remember the J-2 Acquisition Office was up there somewhere, where Larry Sherman and Pete Ayling worked (AF and Army NCOs and both great guys). Public affairs, Protocol and the Legal Office were up there somewhere and I assume that the J-2 (Intel) and the J-3 (Ops) were also.

Back downstairs and facing Chief Gagne's office, I turned right to head down the hall to my office. It seems to me that there was a ramp to the left off that hallway that went down toward my office, which was to the right at the bottom. John Cranford and Wayne Morris were Army guys with whom I shared the office. There was a big old Xerox 914 copy machine there during my time. I think the government must have bought thousands of them because I used them just about everywhere I was ever assigned.

Back to the left was my boss's office (Army LTC Blanton) where some Navy and Marine guys worked (Ken Royce, Larry Driscoll and two or three others whose names have gotten away from me). There were two secretaries; one was American (Helen) and the other was Chinese and I can't remember her name.

There was a back door to my office that opened to the outside, and it could only be opened from the inside. Not far from that door was the print shop where two or three Navy guys printed all the documents for the place. I remember that they had a paper cutter in there that could slice through a ream of paper like a hot knife through butter.

It seems to me that the floors on the lower level of the TDC building were all terrazo tile, but I don't remember if that was the case upstairs. I also don't remember anything about a basement, though I think there may have been one.

So that's about everything I remember about the USTDC building. Based on my experiences with my old schools, I'm probably wrong about much of it. I've never seen any photos of the inside of the building and I doubt that there are any around. Most of us don't take pictures of our workplaces. The building was torn down sometime after 1979 (does anyone know when?) so none of us can go back to see how things really were. I've often wondered if it was used for anything else between 1979 and whenever it was demolished.

What things about the building stand out in your memory?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Currency, Finance and Banking

I've written previously about financial matters in Taiwan and this is the chapter from The Taiwan Report (1973) on that subject.

I honestly don't recall the "Savings Deposit Program" described here, but that 10% return rate looks pretty good by today's standards. Of course the inflation rate in 1973 was 6.16% and in 1974 it was 11.03%, so those participating in this program would have just about broken even.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Clothing in Taiwan

Chapter 11 of the Taiwan Report described what types of clothing were generally worn, as well as their availability in-country. It also provided tips for clothing maintenance.

Many people had clothes custom made while I was there in the mid-seventies, though I think it was more common a few years earlier. Friends of mine who visited Hong Kong said that they could visit a tailor in the morning to pick out a suit style and fabric and be measured, return for a fitting in the afternoon and have the suit delivered to their hotel by evening.

My wardrobe was pretty simple in those days. Still is, come to think of it. Anyway, what I remember most is how the high humidity and frequent rainfall made everything feel damp most of the time. I had just spent about five years in Colorado Springs, with its cool and dry climate before heading to Taipei, so it was quite an adjustment.

After leaving USTDC, I was assigned to a base near Houston, Texas, and barely noticed the high humidity there.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Transportation in Taiwan - 1973

American servicemen who were being assigned to USTDC and other Taipei area units had much to learn about transportation in and around the city. Chapter 10 of The Taiwan Report provided a pretty decent summary of information, including such things as licensing and insurance requirements, maintenance and repair issues and the use of public transportation. Helpful tips for "Space-A" travel were also included.

Because I was unaccompanied, living in the hostel, and didn't own a car or motorcycle, my primary mode of transportation was taxi. I knew people who routinely rode buses (at very inexpensive rates, as I recall) but watching people being crammed into those fumes-spewing beasts was enough for me to either walk or take a taxi wherever I needed to go.

I do regret not exploring more of the city and the surrounding countryside during my 1973-74 tour. For that matter, I've learned quite a lot about places in the compound itself that I didn't know when I was there. I have a grandson who is in the Air Force in Japan and the last thing I told him before he headed overseas was to see everything he could, learn at least a little bit of the language, and take lots of pictures!



Monday, November 10, 2008

Open Messes and Other Clubs - Part 1

Here are more pages from Taiwan Report, the booklet that was mailed to personnel being assigned to USTDC and other units in the Taipei area. This edition was printed during fiscal year 1973.

Today and tomorrow will be Chapter Nine, which describes the military clubs and social organizations available to military personnel and their families. The Club 63 became the China Seas Club when the Navy took over its operation. Kent, the guy who has the Taipei Air Station website and blog (links are in the right-hand column) was a manager at the MAAG Officer's Club while he was stationed at TAS.

As always, just click on any image to see a larger version.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Major Aschenbrenner?

I recently received an email from John (Tien-Cheng Kiang), who was an air traffic controller in Taipei. He worked alongside several American controllers until the U.S. departure from Taiwan in 1979. He continued working for the ROC Civil Aeronautics Administration until his retirement in 2006 - a career spanning more than forty years. His supervisor toward the end of the American presence was a Major Aschenbrenner, who was assigned to J-3 at the U.S. Taiwan Defense Command.

John has been trying to locate his former boss but has been unable to do so. I told him that I would publicize his request here, as well as on the USTDC Group website, which I have already done.

If you remember Major Aschenbrenner, or have any idea where he is today, please comment below. I have had very little success contacting any of the people that I knew in Taipei so I'm always happy to lend a hand to others who are trying to do the same thing.

Recreation in Taipei - Part 3



Monday, November 3, 2008

Recreation in Taipei - Part 1

Les Duffin just sent me another chapter out of the Taiwan Report, the booklet that was mailed to those being assigned to USTDC and other US military organizations during the mid-1970s.

This chapter describes all of the recreational activities that were available in the Taipei area (well...most of them anyway). There are nine pages in this chapter and I'll post three today and the other six on Tuesday and Wednesday.