Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mystery Field

After writing yesterday about all the changes coming to the old HSA areas, I started thinking about the area that was located between the gate to the East Compound and the two hostels to the left of that gate.

My memory is a little hazy (and probably becoming more so each year) but I'm guessing that plot of ground was probably about thirty yards square. It was surrounded by a high concrete wall when I was there in 1973-1974 and was covered with high weeds.

Some said it was a mass grave, though I've never been able to find any such reference. Still it seems like it would have been a pretty valuable piece of real estate to leave unimproved, even during the 1970s.

The photograph here was probably taken from an upper floor of what was then the Roma Hotel during my time in Taipei. I believe that building is still there today at the northeast corner of the intersection of Minzu East Road and Jhonshang North Road. The photo itself is of the hostel where I used to live (room circled), but you can clearly see the fenced-in and weed covered area that I'm talking about.

If anyone out there remembers that piece of ground or knows what the real story was about it, please leave a comment. It was apparently cleared when they demolished all the buildings and built the Art Park that covers that area today, but I've always wondered about its history.


POLLY said...

I was born in Taipei, Formosa in 1956 and my Father was an Army Lt. Col. stationed there with MAAG.
Although, my Father passed on several years ago, my Mother is still alive and remembers everything about Tien Mou, where we lived and the surrounding areas of Taipei. I will show her your picture and interest in the “Mass Grave.” She is now 90 years old but still very sharp.
C. Lamm

Don said...

Thanks, Polly, and I'm looking forward to your mother's comments.

Depending on when your family moved from Taipei, it's possible that the building in the photo had not yet been constructed. I think it was built sometime in the late 1960s but I'm not sure about that.


Zhuxiu said...

I also lived in that hostel for a short period in 1964, after I was posted out of the Linkou Air Station for planning to marry a Taiwanese woman. There used to be an enlisted men's club, the Linkou Club, along Zhongshan Beilu at that time. It was just to the South of the hostel, as I recall. Could that be what was in that area?

Joe Miller, NSGA, Linkou, 1963-64

Misty said...

If it was a mass grave site it might explain why it was left empty. Superstition is a strong part of local culture. During the war there was a hospital across the road.

taipeimarc said...

Hi Don, If you look at this 1945 map you can see there was a military hospital across the street (as mentioned above).

There is a military cemetary just north of the hospital, not east, where your hill is.

Perhaps what happened is that after the KMT took over, many of the war veterans built their illegal houses on the old Japanese cemeteries. If so, perhaps the military hospital later disposed of bodies (especially Japanese) in the area that you mentioned.

When I came to Taiwan in late '87 there was still a large KMT veteran community living on the cemetery grounds. That was torn down in the mid 90s and now the area is a park. (this would be the area just south of the old zoo and just north of the west compound.

titojohn said...

What I find interesting about the map is that two buildings are shown at the exact location of where USTDC was later located. This lends credence that the USTDC buildings were pre-WW2 vintage.


ScottW said...

Incredible to have that field come back into one's consciousness after 40 years. I recall vividly walking past it in twilight many times at around 15 years of age, peering over the block wall, being overwhelmed by the legend. One of those memories one begins to doubt after so long. Tried to reoount it to others a number of times but never was able to do it justice. Now to read others' accounts of it, and their memories. Very powerful. Would love to read more, and to know whether it really was what was rumored.