Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Friday, February 26, 2010

And Even More Tien Mou

Barbara Auch sent me a great photo of the BOT quarters where she and her husband lived during the late 1970s.  Here's what she had to say about it:

The last photo under Tien Mou in 1984, Part 1, was very interesting to me.   Things changed so much just from 1979 to 1984!

You said that photos three through six are of the west side of the street where the Japanese school now stands.  I believe that the apartment buildings behind the school (photo 6) are the same apartment buildings that were being built behind my house (BOT #109 in the west compound)!  If you blow up the picture, you can see the bamboo scaffolding.  There was a big earthquake when we were there and I was amazed that the scaffolding didn't come down.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Burning Bridges Behind Me

Just kidding.  I'm not really burning anything but whenever I think of bridges my mind always seems to wander back to when that song was popular.  It's too late to turn back now.

I've written several times about the bridge that has been called the Hirohito Bridge, the Keelung River Bridge, and probably various other names that I've never heard.  I'm not obsessed with the structure or anything, but I crossed it so many times on my way to the Club 63 and elsewhere that it is very much a part of my Taipei memories.

The bridge that existed when I was there was built in 1923 for Japanese Emperor Hirohito's visit to the Taiwan Grand Shrine.  The shrine was located on the spot today occupied by the Grand Hotel.  You can see the bridge toward the bottom of this painting.


 The photo below is how it looked when I was at USTDC in the 1970s.


 I recently received a couple of images from a friend that show the previous bridge that spanned the river at that point.  I don't know if this was the original bridge or if there was another one there prior to this one.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Just Down The Road

I don't usually post things from down-island, but I came across an on-line copy of the 1973 edition of the Ching Chuan Kang (CCK) Republic of China Air Force Base orientation booklet.  It has a section about the US Taiwan Defense Command and Taipei, which I thought some of you might find it interesting.

There's a section about housing and the cost of staying in the hostel at CCK.  I don't recall what I paid at my hostel next to the East Compound in Taipei but the CCK hostel rates seem very reasonable, even for those days.   All I remember is that my room was less expensive overall than renting an apartment elsewhere in the city, especially since I had no utilities to pay or transportation costs to get back and forth to work.

You can find the complete CCK brochure HERE.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bill Kling Family Arrival

MAY 1973:

I arrived on the island as an Army E-5/SP5 with my young wife and six month old son.  As some background, I was a communications type person and while previously serving in Vietnam I worked with those in Taiwan  keeping communications circuits working between Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan and Hawaii.  Of course these people told me that if possible I should get assigned to Taipei.  As luck would have it, after serving at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey, for 18 months I got orders for Stratcom Taiwan.

So I left from SEA-TAC airport via a military charter (Flying Tiger) and after many stops along the way was met at Sung Shan airport (the only airport) by my sponsor SSG Peredo.  He took us a short ride to the Formosa Guest House where we would live for the next 75 days.

To get to the Formosa GH, you would exit the East Compound via the back entrance, cross the street and make a left at the first alley (there was a furniture store at that spot), walk about 50 feet and there it was.  The first few nights we had trouble sleeping as we had to get used to the smells and noises of Taipei.  The GH owners were a family with two young daughters 11 & 12 and a mother-in-law.  THE WU FAMILY.  They ran the GH which consisted of three floors and perhaps as many as six apartments.  These people became friends and we are still in contact with the daughters today.

It seemed we ate many meals at the cafeteria located on the West Compound, and many meals at the 63 Club and a few at the FASD Dining Hall on the East Compound.  As Taiwan "rookies" we didn't eat on the town often.  It seemed we were always walking to the East Compound, as that was where the 7-11 type store, the housing office, bank, PMO, education center, and almost everything I needed for the family were located.  The weather could make that seem like a long walk sometimes, especially with an infant. 

I remember the adjustment my wife had to make.  This was her first overseas assignment and she had to learn how the military worked while being away from friends and family with a new baby.  She was great and thanks to the family at the GH, she learned her away around Taipei, how and where to shop, how to look for a place to live (we ended up in the old BOT housing in Tien Mou), speak basic Chinese, and meet other new families. She really did a lot of things to help me, as I worked on Grass Mountain, probably a 30-45 drive via government van from the Compound area.

A few other things I remember, in no specific order, were:
  • learning what water to drink and where to go to get it.  
  • Learning about the different units in Tapei.
  • Tthe role of the Air Force, Navy, and Army.
  • How to live while waiting for our household goods on the money alloted by the government.  We had to provide receipts for everything to the Army every 10 days for every expense you can think of, including the cost of the GH, meals, transportation, laundry, etc.  I didn't realize what a benefit this was at the time!  Just imagine living almost free for 75 days today while still getting your regular pay.
  • Getting on the BOT housing list.  If I wanted a New BOT 2 bedroom house, the waiting list was 9 months with the cost being about 3600NT a month, or an Old BOT house with no waiting list for 2300NT a month.  The decision was easy for a new family so as soon as our furniture arrived we moved into the Old BOT housing.  Again, looking back that was sooo cheap with the exchange rate of 38NT to the dollar combined with the housing allowance I recedived it was a good deal.  However, I did need to get a house guard, yard boy, amah, but all in all a sweet situation.  As a point of reference private housing in the Tien Mou area was much more expensive, plus BOT housing was close to the area where the movie theater, snack bar,bowling alley, and pool were located.

I was lucky enough enough to serve my tour, return the States and come back to Taipei a year later.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

More on MIG 1765

I've commented a couple of times previously about the MIG pilot who defected from the Peoples' Republic of China on March 3, 1962.  Those articles were on May 11, 2008 and June 11, 2008.

Today, old friend Sarj Bloom pointed me to a YouTube video that appears to be a newsreel about that period.  I don't speak the language, of course, but there appear to be stories about Chiang Kai-Shek, new farming technology and the building of a dam.  About three minutes into the five minute video, there is a story about the MIG aircraft, tail number 1765, and the pilot who flew it to Taiwan.  Here's that video:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tien Mou in 1984 - Part 4

Les sent three more photos of Tien Mou that were taken during his 1984 trip, including the Tien Mou tree, which he said anyone who lived there would remember.

Though I didn't live there during my stay at USTDC, I hope these images bring back some happy memories for those who did.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tien Mou in 1984 - Part 3

These are the last of the Tien Mou photographs that Les took during his 1984 visit to Taiwan.  They are also of the east side, where the recreation facilities were located.  The second to the last photo identifies that area as the intended site of the new Taipei American School.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tien Mou in 1984, Part 1

A couple of weeks ago I posted a request from a woman who was in Taipei for a short time and wanted to visit Tien Mou, where she lived as a military dependent from 1969 to 1971.  She received several helpful tips from readers and was able to locate the area where she and many other military families once resided.

In response to her request, Les sent me several photographs that he took of the area during a visit to Taiwan in 1984.  Much had changed by then and of course there have been more significant changes since then, but I thought that the photos might be of interest to many here.  They capture Tien Mou as it appeared approximately five years after the departure of American military families.

Because there are many photos in this collection, I intend to post them over a three day period.  The first two today show the general area, including the Mongolian Barbecue.  Photos three through six are of the west side of the street where the Japanese school now stands.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Typhoon Gloria Aftermath

I've posted a number of photos and comments about Typhoon Gloria that hit Taiwan in 1963.  There was tremendous damage from flooding and high winds from what was then the largest typhoon to ever hit the island.  The HSA and USTDC compounds were both flooded.  I remember seeing a plaque on the wall of either the commissary or the exchange that showed the high water mark from that typhoon.

Les just sent me some photographs of the east compound that he took after the waters had receded.  The first two show items being set out to dry from the exchange and the third shows the line of military personnel and their families lining up to buy flood damaged items at deep discounts.

Directly ahead in the third photo is the base theater and library.  The library was just to the right of the theater.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

American Club in China

As I've mentioned several times, the building that used to house the Club 63, the largest enlisted club in the Taipei area, is now home to The American Club in China, an upscale private club that caters to the international business community.

Some of you may remember that The American Club used to be located right next to the HSA east compound, just to the left of the hostels.  I received some photographs from Les Duffin that he took from the roof of the hostel closest to Chung Shang (ZhongShan) North Road.  The first photo shows the back of the American Club and its tennis courts.  I lived in the second hostel (which you can see the corner of here) and I remember looking down on those courts just about every day.


The second photo is what Les believes was the main Entrance to the club. 

By the way, since my room in the hostel faced west toward Chung Shan North Road, the only way I could have seen those tennis courts from above (short of climbing up on the roof) would be from the back of the hostel.  It seems to me that there was a window on the landing of the stairway that faced east (the back side). Does anyone remember if that was the case?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Edward Ferro

This is a bit off-topic, but I was recently contacted by David Ferro, whose grandfather, Edward Ferro, worked in Taiwan during the early 1960s, managing the construction of an artillery factory.

David is seeking any information about his grandfather or the work he did there, and he sent along several photographs of his grandfather.  Here's a portion of his message:

He spent 2 years in Formosa ( Taiwan ) where he over saw the development of a artillery factory. It was completed approximately around the early 60’s.  The name of the project was the 61st.? I think.  I was looking for any information about this project and my grandfather.

My grandfather recently died at the 97. He shared many great stories and pictures with me of his time in Taiwan . Any information would be greatly appreciated.

If anyone has information about Mr. Edward Ferro, please comment below or drop me a note and I'll forward it on to David.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Growth of Taipei

Sarj Bloom has provided lots of great photos and narratives about his time at USTDC during the early 1960s.  He recently showed me a short time-lapse video that he put together of Taipei.  Here's how he describes it:

A while back I downloaded a photo of Taipei 101 with Kwan Yin Mountain in the background. It is such a beautiful photograph. Recently I took a look at one of the landscape photos that I took of the city and Kwan Yin Mountain and I thought they  must have been taken from near the same spot.

I called up the two images in PhotoShop and found that they were taken from the same area. The new photo was shot from a little higher angle, but when I matched up the mountain in the background you can see it was from the same distance.  It's like looking through time.  I think you will find it as interesting as I did.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Around the Neighborhood

More from Les:

I took a look through the old slides again and found three more along Chung Shan North Road not far from the Ambassador Hotel that might stir some memories.  The Taiwan Cement Corporation headquarters and the old Japanese-style firehouse.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Compound Area Views

Good old Les sent me these photos several days ago and they're all very familiar to me.  Here are his comments and the pictures:
Here are four more you might like.  One is just a shot looking south along Chung Shan N. Road.  I remember the JAL office, but don’t remember what the cross street was.  The other three are of the corner near the Linkou Annex: one of the Roma Hotel, another of the book store on the opposite corner, and one showing both and with the East Compound entrance in the foreground.

These are really great shots.  The Linkou Bookstore later became the Caves Bookstore, but I think that was after I left in 1974.

I remember when Japan Airlines (JAL) discontinued flights in and out of Taipei which they had to do to get access to the People's Republic.
I believe the fourth photo was taken from the roof of the hostel that was closest to the street.  The other building was directly behind this one with a paved area between them.  You can see the gate to the east compound directly ahead and the back of the Roma hotel is just beyond it.  I walked through that gate to get to TDC for the 15 months I was there.   Directly across Chung Shan North Road from the east gate was the entrance to the west compound where the chapel, PMO, the gas station and the bowling alley were located.

Friday, February 5, 2010

More Hotels

I recently received some more great photographs from Les Duffin, who took the rooftop shots from the Ambassador Hotel that I posted a few days ago.  Here's what he had to say about these photographs:

Since we’ve been talking about hotels a lot lately, I thought I’d send these photos along just in case you want to use them.  The one with all the greenery, shot from the hill in front of the Grand Hotel, shows the President Hotel but I just noticed you can also see the two hostels in the foreground.  Then there’s one of the President from street level.

Then there are three shots of the Mandarin Hotel.  Since Misty identified one of my shots from the Ambassador’s rooftop as the Mandarin, I figured I may as well send some of the front end.