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.

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


  1. Likely the same shoe man who pedalled through our neighboorhood (Section C-1, C-21, 2 houses northeast of teen club), 1967-69. Great memory!

  2. Nice contribution. Thanks for the memories!

  3. I wonder if the shoe man is local people or for Taipei.

  4. He was a local fellow as best as we recall. John