This blog was created for USASTRATCOM Long Lines Battalion Army personnel who served in Taiwan during the 1965-72 time frame. Specifically, those who lived and worked in and around Taipei are the target. If you worked at the Grass Mountain or Gold Mountain facilities or anywhere in downtown Taipei, we would like to hear from you. All are welcome to visit and contribute to this blog. Your comments and pictures are encouraged.

Friday, December 31, 2010

So We Bought This Dog, Taipei, Taiwan, 1968

Based on the assumption that you can never have enough insurance, we decided to buy a dog. Before my wife arrived in mid-August, 1968, I knew approximately where the dog vendor would be during the day.

Shortly after we moved into the apartment in Yangmingshan, we went hunting for a dog. We wanted one that would add that third layer of apartment protection as well as provide us with some companionship.

A mixed little dog that would easily growl and bark was our goal. What we got exceeded our expectations and, sometimes, our patience. 
South of the East Compound and in an alley, the dog seller was found. In August of 1968, the heat was oppressive every day. This picture was taken after we bought ours.

The name had been already picked out, so now we chose. The day we bought Cecil, the assortment of these mixed Spitz pups was about six.

They were all asleep, so we chose a couple that had brown spots. Out from the cage they came, with a swipe from a wet towel to wake them up.

One actually walked toward us, and the pick was made. After haggling over a dollar or two, we took the dog home. We were assured that we had a male. 

Back at the apartment, one of us put one hand over its mouth and the other hand over the eyes. Then the other sprayed the whole body with Raid to kill anything external.

We then gave Cecil a bath and let him sleep. We figured if he could survive that first day, then chances of living were increased.

We didn't now there was an American veterinarian, so we took him to Blue Sky in Tien Mou. Maybe the address is familiar to some of you, but I believe this was on a major street.

After an initial exam, the Taiwanese vet told us our HE was a SHE.  Not that it made any difference. We weren't checking that closely. Embarrassing....yes.

The vet was pleasant and we felt confident in having Cecil spayed and given a health check.  He assured us he had only lost 3 dogs while neutering them over his years in practice. 
The battle for dominance began early. This dog would maintain eye contact which is rare. She allowed us to believe we were in charge. Her behavior, though, indicated otherwise.

She always seemed to have a purpose in her busy little life.

Since she cried every time we went to bed, Cecil soon joined us. During the winter, we used our electric blanket. She was firmly planted between our pillows. 

If we moved during the night, she growled. See the pattern yet?

After growing to about 15 pounds, Cecil was out the door at 5 a.m. She awoke her other dog friends and off they would go for the day.

She would often come back looking filthy. Three or four baths each week were not uncommon. Her breath would smell heavily of garlic.

She and her friends raided the garbage at the hotel near the entrance of DaHeng Road.

We've never had another dog who wanted so much to ride in the car with her face out the window catching the breeze.

Fatigues and hat meant going to work and she was in the car with my wife. Every time the shift was over, she would be in our car on my wife's lap, happy to see me.

She wasn't happy to see my friends or co-workers.
Once we got her to accept the leash, which took about 10 months, we could take her anywhere, including Shimending. Here, we are on the road to the Grass Mountain Hostel.
Despite her long absences during the day, Cecil always showed up when it got dark. Although being encouraged by me to play in traffic and chase taxis and buses,  she was with us when it was time to leave Taiwan.

So, the paperwork began. This is her certificate by the American vet.
Next came getting the ROC government to sign off. The association with the Blue Sky clinic didn't hurt.
Finally, the contract with Northwest Orient Airlines was made. The cost to ship her to Hopkins Airport in Cleveland was $73.00.

We delivered her to NWO freight at the airport in a very sturdy metal cage which we bought in Shimending. Attached to the cage were 3 cans of dog food, taped to the top. Also attached were a copy of my departure orders and a personal note my wife wrote.

So into the cargo hold she finally went, along with the baggage and commercial shipping. She was so tough that we were pretty confident she would survive.

My in-laws picked her up when the call came from Cleveland. The mystery was that she was not in the cage in which she was shipped. She was also very subdued and immediately formed a bond with my father-in-law, who had a story of how forlorn the dog looked. 

When my wife arrived home in mid-August, Cecil was always glued to her. None of this being alone stuff. After my arrival, she had a foursome she trusted.

Her first birthday was celebrated with us in CONUS as were 14 more. What a wonderful life she had.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Living In Yangmingshan, Taipei, Taiwan, 1968-69

Since we were so lucky to rent one of the 12 units in our 3-building complex, we decided to jump right in and become part of the community. Some merchants, like the propane guy, we contacted. Others made a steady stream to our door and many contracts were made.

Here is a public bus chugging up the 10 miles from Taipei to Yangmingshan. Kent Mathieu had it on his web page. It's one of my favorites since the Taipei bus system certainly didn't lack riders. Many were overcrowded and many guys used the public buses to go downtown or come back up the mountain.

There were plenty of bus stops along the way.  How about the concrete block barrier! There were many places to pull off and admire the view, but at night only headlights lit the road. Later, President Chiang had vapor lights installed, lighting the road all the way from Taipei to his summer villa in Yangmingshan.
Seen from the road to work, our three-building complex of 3 stories each can be seen at the upper left of this picture.
Mr. Light not only brokered the apartment lease, he arranged for us to rent a refrigerator until our Whirlpool arrived. He sent us a Christmas card and eventually bought our Whirlpool as well as other items.
Our landlord's wife was a sweetheart. Each month she took the bus up from Taipei and got off at the stop right bedside DaHeng Road. Since we new she would be coming, our helper assisted in waxing the floors and washing everything else including the screens.

The routine was always the same. We greeted her at the door as she said "hello." She then removed her shoes, counted the $60 dollars (NT $2400) rent and said "thank you."  She then put on her shoes and we all said "goodbye."  It went that way for 11 months.                                    

This was our encounter with extortion. Paul ran the guard service which we figured was a necessity. If we had declined, then what? So, we paid our monthly fee of $3.75 and we had dark until dawn protection in the form of a guy with a stick. This led to other protective measures on our part.
Yep....joining the MAAG Rod and Gun Club was my method of obtaining a pistol. Notice the affiliation with the NRA.
Still in our possession after 40+ years is a .22 calibre Ruger semi-automatic pistol. We had no ammunition!
We bought 2 propane tanks from this guy. We had a gas burner for cooking and a gas- fired hot water tank for heated water. A bath or shower took planning since the water tank had about 30 gallons. The propane tanks always seemed to run dry too quickly.
After reading his business card, we decided to have my fatigues and khakis done by Johnson Laundry. Other laundry was cleaned elsewhere.
The Westinghouse laundry was located on Chung Shan North Road, Section 2 on the west side of the road. These young women washed, dried, and wrapped our clothes. The location gave my wife yet another reason to drive down the hill to Taipei.
Our 1100 cc, 4-speed 1968 Toyota was our freedom from the hill. Bought and sold later for $1400.00, it would be on the recall list today. Yet we still managed to put over 10,000 km (6,000 + miles) on it in one year. Just like most everyone else, our insurance came from Taiwan Fire and Marine.
An officer had the exact same car as ours. He told me of the parts place on Nanking West Road and the Toyota service headquarters. So, after the head gasket blew, we drove about 15 miles down the mountain without any water in the radiator. All the water was mixed with the oil.

Turning west onto Min Chuan Road took us over Taipei Bridge. Above is the toll receipt which for some reason, we kept. Shortly after crossing the bridge, we arrived at the garage. The Taiwan manager had been trained in Germany with BMW. Fixed in one day, the cost was $12.00 which was gladly paid.   

The bamboo for the furniture and curtains was grown in southern Taiwan, we were told.

Our apartment furniture was mostly made from bamboo and wasn't very comfortable. The man from whom we bought it said to lightly spray the end tables, chairs and other furniture with a water spray.

This was to keep it from drying out and becoming brittle. So we followed his directions and ended up with quite a bit of mold. So, then we sprayed with Clorox in the bottle.

Never before or after did we have a view like this from where we lived. This was taken from our back room.

Looking from our third floor balcony, we had an excellent view of our neighbors' house. With underground parking and a study surrounded by glass, it was an architectural delight.

We became friends with the two youngest sons who brought us oranges from their grove. They had a Great Dane named Jack. Papa owned the Far East theater in Shimending among other holdings.

Until we saw him applying his skills, we thought this man sold fish. In reality, he was a cobbler on wheels, shouting "soles and heels" as he arrived. It sounded like he was saying "sole and eels".
Finally, here's my wife standing at the entrance to the library of the Chinese Culture College.
The library as it appeared around 2006
A more up-to-date picture

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bank Of Taiwan, F Housing, Shantzuhou, Taipei, Taiwan

My final housing area to be viewed is the one nearest to our former apartment on DaHeng Road. The F-Housing area is also unique in its own way. Clay tile roofs and concrete block enclosures isolate this site.

The individual housing areas are the most neglected and most interesting. Much of the area consists of dormitories to be renovated. In 1969, there were no U. S. military folks living in the barracks to my knowledge. 

Back then, they may have been barracks for ROC soldiers or dormitories for Chinese Culture College students. They look to be over 2000 square feet each.

Again, LTC Scott Ellinger has taken photos of this area. They were posted on Don Wiggins' USTDC blog September 13, 2010. To view them, click HERE

An October  6, 2010 post on Kent Mathieu's Taipeiairstation. blog, indicates the purpose of renovating these dorms in Section F Housing. Just scroll down the page until reaching the 10/6/2010 post.

As you can see in the upper right of this picture are the coordinates of DaHeng Road. Just southwest of this would be the present-day location of F-Housing.

Here again is LTC Ellinger's enhanced housing areas back in 1969. Thanks again to Don Wiggins USTDC.blogspot for his post of this photo on September 17, 2010.  F-Housing is clearly seen.

If the little triangular area to the south of this road is the unofficial entrance to C-Housing, then the Chinese Culture University sign is the unofficial entrance to F-Housing. 

This is the general area in which houses and dorms are located. Google Earth only follows so many streets. 

A chain restricts access to these two houses.  In the background is the large hill right next to our apartment.

This is the house at the left of the chain. Don't know why the yellow car is parked there.

The house directly to the right of the chain certainly looks be to abandoned.

This house appears to be occupied. If maintained, clay tile roofs can last decades.

It appears that this dorm is being readied with materials for renovation.

Time and weather can take a toll.

In the background is the University.

Clearly, this street is off-limits.

 Whoa! This one will take much money, materials and labor to bring it back to its former glory.

These houses speak for themselves.

If the area had not been declared a cultural landmark, the University would have swallowed it up  by now.

This dormitory is typical of the ones surrounded by a concrete block wall. Who needs shrubs?

Just in case you didn't go to taipeiairstation.blogspot on October 6, 2010, here is the updated map of the Yangmingshan housing areas.

The Section F dorms are to be used to house students from mainland China.