Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Florida Bakery and Back Alley Market

Sarj Bloom mentioned the Florida Bakery and the Back Alley Market in his Trip Down Memory Lane comments.

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

Another MIG-15 Shot

A couple of weeks ago I posted a photo taken by Sarj Bloom of MIG-15 #1765 that was flown from the Chinese mainland to Taiwan by a defector named Liu Chen-se. Liu was handsomely rewarded for his deed.

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.

USTDC Area Today

I think it's been quite a while since I posted an aerial view of the area in Taipei where the compounds used to be.

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.

Another Grass Mountain Photo

Stev Pitchford sent in this shot after seeing Sarj Bloom's images of the Chiang residence on Grass Mountain.

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.

Liquid Refreshment

Many enjoyed a cold beer on hot days in Taipei. As I recall, there were a lot of hot days.

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?

Chiang and Madame Chiang

Sarj sent in these two photos taken by a USTDC photographer at what appears to be some sort of reception at the Chiang estate on Grass Mountain. Can anyone identify the westerner in the dark suit to the left of the photo? Sarj says it was taken sometime in 1962 or 1963 and that the highly decorated Chinese officer just to the left of Chiang was probably his son from a previous marriage, Chiang Ching-kuo, who took over the reigns of government for a while after his father died.

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?

Ghosts of Taiwan Past

I recently heard from Harry Olson, who was up at Linkou during the 1970s. He sent a few photos taken by a friend of his who visited the old site around the time that the buildings were being demolished. The first one is the former main gate, the second is the operations building and the third is a barracks.

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

Coolies In The Compound

Sarj sent this photo of Chinese laborers who worked around the USTDC compound. His comments follow:

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.

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?
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!

Camera Obscura and the Knife Switch

Sounds like a good name for a rock group, doesn't it?

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.

Trip Down Memory Lane

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 USA."

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.

As you went south from the compound, you came to an intersection. On the northeast corner to your left was the Roma Hotel. That building is still there today, as far as I can determine from photos that Kent has sent. Across the street from the Roma and slightly to the left was the Linkou Club; I think it was called the Linkou Club Annex in 73-74. Kent tells me that the club used to be located on Sung Shan Road, and farther south away from the compound. If you looked over at the southwest corner of that same intersection, there was a bookstore where you could buy the usual pirated books, records and tapes. That building is also still there.

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

Snake Alley

Several months ago I wrote about a visit to Taipei's Snake Alley. I just found this video over on YouTube and thought it might bring back some memories. The place has been modernized quite a lot (I don't remember a roof over it) but it seems to have about the same atmosphere.

Bon appetit!


Sarj Bloom provided these photos of a trip that VADM Melson made to Kinmen. There's also a newspaper article describing the visit, possibly from the Stars and Stripes. Here's what he had to say:

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.

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!"

Another USO Photo

Sarj sent in another photo that was taken during the Bob Hope USO Christmas show. This one shows Vice Admiral Melson sitting under the cue card stand. Note that the cue is for Miss America, Amedee Chabot.

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

A Trip To Matsu

Stev Pitchford provided some photographs and a narrative of his trip from USTDC to the Matsu Islands in 1959. Those were very tense times, especially in that area. I found an interesting account on-line that discusses another PBY that disappeared around that time. I certainly can't vouch for its accuracy but it makes for interesting reading. You can find that story here.

Here's Stev's account of his trip:

I was an E-3 PHGAN [Ground Photographer Airman] when I arrived in Taipei. Commander Best was the officer in charge of the photo lab. I had only been there two or three weeks when they sent me to Matsu with the commander. I still don't know why they sent me, but I tell people it was to confuse the enemy. We flew over in a PBY (don't hold me to that because I'm not an expert on aircraft), landed on the water, and when we climbed out of the plane there were 4 or 5 MAAG guys on the beach staring at me wondering what a PHGAN was. They thought I was some sort of nuclear technician. After they found out I was only a photographer, they wandered off. I told Sarj this story earlier and he thinks the trip was so the commander could get some flight pay. He could be right, but confusing the enemy makes for a better story so I'm sticking with that.

Most people familiar with Taiwan know that Matsu is a group of islands just off the coast of mainland China near the mouth of the Min River. At that time, 1959, five of the islands were inhabited. If my memory is right, there were about a dozen Americans stationed there. They lived in, and worked out of, this compound on one of the islands.

I stayed there a week taking a couple of pictures for the commander, but mostly wandering around on my own. Spotted around on the surface of the islands were various anti-aircraft guns and artillery pieces, but the really big guns were hidden underground in caves. I understand the hostilities got serious occasionally, but for the most part they had a pretty civilized arrangement. The two sides, Communists and Nationalists, would fire artillery shells at each other that sprayed out propaganda leaflets. One side would fire on the odd numbered days and the other side would fire on the even numbered days.

After my week there, I went back to Taiwan on a Chinese destroyer with a couple of the MAAG guys.

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.

From Keelung, it was back to my ordinary life in Taipei and the photo lab.

J-24 Farewell Gathering

Sarj Bloom sent in this photo and narrative:

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.

Great memories!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Navy Club (Fleet Reserve Association)


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

Change of Command

I posted information some time ago that I received from Sarj Bloom about the 1962 change of command ceremony for Admirals Smoot (outgoing) and Melson.

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

Club Card

Sarj Bloom sent in this image of his old 63 Club (Club 63/MAAG Club/China Seas) membership card. He described it as the best place in town to eat, like some exclusive restaurant in the States (no argument from me!).

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.

First Impressions of Taiwan

I received a nice note from Stev Pitchford a few days ago. He described his first few days as a young sailor in Taipei. I think that most of us can relate to many of the things he describes here.

Here's Stev's account:

TDC was my first real duty station. Before that, it was boot camp and schools. It was probably late July, 1959, when I finished Photo School in Pensacola. I had one or two weeks leave at home, then went to Treasure Island in San Francisco to wait for a flight from Travis AFB to Taipei. No one I had talked to in Pensacola knew where TDC was, let alone what it was. Before I left, I did learn that Taiwan and Formosa were the same place, so I had a general idea of where I was going.

After a few days at Treasure Island, I took a bus to Travis AFB to start my journey to Taipei. While waiting at Travis for my MATS flight, I was fascinated watching B-52s take off and land. The MATS flight was a Lockheed Super G Constellation and the passenger seats faced to the rear. We had layovers at Hickam Field in HI, Wake Island, and Guam. I remember standing on the beach at Guam looking out at the horizon and the water was just as deep blue at the horizon as it was at my feet.

I think it was sometime the second day after we left Travis AFB that I got off the plane and spent the night in a barracks at Clark AFB in the Philippines. The next day, it was on to another plane for the trip to Taipei. Taiwan has mountains over 13,000 feet high and as we flew up the western coast of the island, you could look out and see some of those peaks almost at eye level. You could also look down and see batteries of Nike missiles pointing up from the hillsides.

Landing in Taipei, I saw both water buffaloes and anti-aircraft guns in the fields by the runway.

From the airport, I went to the photo lab at TDC fully expecting to find a typical military base where all my needs would be taken care of - barracks, mess hall, and so forth. The Chief asked me where I wanted to spend the night. It was then I learned that I was responsible for my own housing and getting myself fed. I was an 18 year old kid halfway around the world from home with $14 in my pocket.

The Chief took me to one of the downtown hostels for the night and said we'd make more permanent arrangements the next day. The next morning, he took me to Hostel #1 on Grass Mountain and got me settled in. Fortunately, the hostel only billed me once a month, so I was able to stay warm and fed till payday.

We were back at the photo lab by noon and the guys decided to welcome me to Taipei by taking me to a Mongolian barbecue. Several of them had motor scooters, so we all hopped on and rode across town to a riverbank shed with a wok. I'm not sure what the cook threw on the wok, but it tasted good and didn't kill any of us.

By the end of the day, I had pretty well adjusted to life in Taiwan and had a great year there.

The Generalissimo and the Admiral

Sarj Bloom sent in this shot of a painting that he saw during an event at VADM Melson's quarters.

Left to right are Madame Chiang, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, Mrs. Melson and Vice Admiral Melson.

Dick Hartman Memories

I received a note from Dick Hartman a few days ago. He also worked in the photo lab and I think he was probably at USTDC earlier than anyone else who has contacted me.

Here are his comments:

I was one of the first photo lab navy personnel stationed at TDC in 1955. At that time we were among the 800 troops in Taiwan. We lived in town anywhere we could rent. Seven of us rented a house that was walled in and came with a housekeeper . It had a big iron gate entrance. The housekeeper had a Chimp monkey. We spent many off-duty duty hours at bar alley and the girls wanted to learn English, so we had lots of companions. When the Admirals wife learned of our great deal, she had him move us seven miles out of town to the Grass Mountain Hostel. We liked the hostel as we had houseboys to maintain our rooms and cook our food, but we still kept an apartment downtown.

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.

Some of my comrades were Al Meyer, Larry Kerth and Bill Bright. Some first and last names escape me now. We had a very tall red-haired chief in charge. There were about 12 of us working two rotating shifts . Night shift was great because we got to play a lot of golf.

I enjoyed the people and the culture and got a first hand view when I dated a girl that worked in the soda bar of the EM club. I visited her parents' hut way out in the mountains by the Keelung Harbor area.

Are you familiar with any of the guys that were there in 1956 or still there in 1957? I have lost touch with all of them.We knew some of the communications guys but as you probably know we were not close to them.

What is that ugly building to the right of the lab? There was a big pile of black dirt there when I left and it got tracked into the building and was the subject of my captain's mast when I told an Air Force officer to stick it. The Navy Commander dismissed the case.

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."

Wish I could talk with some of the guys that were there.

Dick Hartman

Sarj's Farewell Certificate

This is pretty interesting. I don't recall seeing these when I was at TDC during the 1970s. We all received a plaque but that's about it. I disposed of most of my plaques and certificates, including that one, a few years ago during a downsizing frenzy.

Does anyone recognize any of the names on this certificate?

Then And Now Photos

Sarj provided these "then and now" photos of the hotel at Sun Moon Lake and the First Hotel.

The Detour To Sun Moon Lake

Sarj Bloom documented his long and bumpy ride to Sun Moon Lake with these photos. Here are his comments:

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.

I was lucky that only the tailpipe and muffler came off and the oil pan had some real nice dents in it. I put the car in the garage as soon as I got back to Taipei. Does this even look like a road to you? We must have traveled like this for three hours. We laughed and kept saying that we may never get back to civilization. Always the photographer, I had to shoot the pictures myself. I would get out of the car along with the women and survey the road, take a picture, get back in the car and pray. Oh my poor '57 Chevy!

Chen Cheng and Admiral Smoot

Sarj sent in this photo of Vice President Chen Cheng presenting an award to Admiral Smoot at his departure from USTDC in 1962.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Another USO Photo

Sarj Bloom sent another shot from the Bob Hope USO Tour:

I wasn't going to scan this photo but then I noticed that PN1 Fletcher also had his name on the window along with Anita Bryant's and Janis Paige's and Miss USA, Amedee Chabot. I thought that maybe someone would recognize him or he would even see this picture.

PN1 stands for Personnelman First Class. With my loupe (magnifier) on the original photo I can see that his badge says "Bob Hope Staff" and it has an official Chinese chop on it (see insert).

USO Shows

Most of us who served "back in the day" have fond memories of Hollywood stars who entertained service men and women at USO shows.

Sarj Bloom sends a collage of photographs that were taken during the 1962 Bob Hope Christmas USO Tour.

Sarj's comments follow:

At this time I was no longer the junior PO in the lab, so PH3 Gallagher was assigned to shoot these photos. I got to sit in an aisle seat and almost got on the TV taping.

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.
Here are the details:
1962 Hope Christmas USO Tour:
Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Taiwan, Philippines, Guam
Guest Stars: Les Brown and band, Anita Bryant, Amedee Chabot, Miss U.S.A., Jerry Colonna, Peter Leeds, Janis Paige, Lana Turner.
left to right in group photo : Jerry Colonna, Miss U.S. A. Amedee Chabot, Lana Turner, Janis Paige, Anita Bryant, Bob Hope, Peter Leeds.


Earthquakes have always been pretty common in Taiwan. Sarj sent along this account of one rumbler that he experienced in the early nineteen-sixties:

Here is a photo taken on the top of the First Hotel, the tallest building in Taipei in 1962 or 63. We were attending a party that some officer invited me to. There was a lot of brass there and as I remember the officer who invited me loved the official portrait that I took of him so much that he invited me and my wife and Chief Dumas , chief of the photo lab, to this party.

The party was being held on the roof of the hotel and shortly after I took this photo...left to right PHC Dumas, chief's friend, my wife Ray-Fong. As you can see, the chief was sitting with his arm on the outside wall of the hotel and so was I after this photo. Well, the quake hit and the building swayed so much I was sure it was going to fall over. Boy, did we get off that roof and down to the ground fast!

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?

Maybe someone else will remember the date and the magnitude of the quake or have another story of other quakes. I know I remember my first one -- waking up with a hangover while the bed was jumping across the room.

Here's another photo of the First Hotel as it looked then, and as it looks today. Still standing!

More Grass Mountain Park Photos

Stev Pitchford, who earlier sent photos of the park on Grass Mountain, has provided two more. These were also taken during September or October of 1959.

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.

Another Keelung River Bridge View

I received this one today from old friend Kent Mathieu over at the Taipei Air Station website.

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!

Keelung River Bridge

Stev Pitchford comes through again, this time with some photos taken on and around the Keelung River bridge that was near the USTDC compound. All of these pictures were taken in Sept. 1959 except for the last one, which was taken in Nov 1959. His comments appear below:

When you left the front entrance of the TDC compound, you went up to a road by the Keelung River.

Going left on that road took you toward the zoo, Chungshan N. Road, and the Keelung River Bridge.

Across the bridge to the right was the road to the 63 Club. Bear left instead, and you were on the road to Grass Mountain. If you look to the left of the bus on the bridge in this picture, you can see the driveway to the Grand Hotel.

This is a view from the bridge.

The Grass Mountain area is shrouded in clouds.
To see what this area looks like today, go to Google Earth and enter these coordinates: 25 4' 25.03"N, 121 31' 31.82"E. It is a different world today.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New Photos of TDC Building

I received these two great photos of the USTDC main building from Stev Pitchford. They were taken during October, 1959.

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?