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.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gifts For The Folks Back Home

South of the East Compound on Chung Shan (ZhongShan) North Road, we bought many presents for family and friends.

Slippers, lamps, earrings, statues, pictures and other knick-knacks all came from either the streets of Taipei or door-to-door salesmen at our Grass Mountain apartment.

Not too far south of the West Compound, this shopping area across the street continued for about a half-mile.

Taken from an angle toward the east, this area on which I'm standing must be south of the West Compound.

It seems to me that there was an ice cream parlor near here on the west side.

The Toyota/Nissan dealer was somewhere in this mix. Chung Shan North Road begins to take a very gradual left curve as it continues south toward Min Chuan Road.

Up ahead is a guy on R and R, in love and near the paintings of Elvis on black velvet.

Three of the guys with whom I worked stand in front of one of the many record stores. All day long, cuts from all the latest albums blared from stereo systems in the back of each stall.

Book stores were plentiful along this route, also. Hard cover best sellers went  $1.00 each. Record albums were 30 cents each during our tour.

We already had Sunshine of Your Love by Cream and were looking for their new album with White Room. Up and down Chung Shan we went with me asking for White Room by Cream.

Nobody had it which was the norm, but they wrote down the song and group. They all got pirated albums at the same time.

Shortly afterward, out came the album in every record store in Taipei. Ask and you may just receive by clicking HERE.

How about some Sunshine of Your Love? Just click HERE.

One of the many records jammed into my duffel bag. There were probably 25 more.

Blue Rondo  AlA Turk click HERE.

Or better yet, Take Five and click HERE.

We probably bought jewelry boxes for our dads here. When the wood dried, it sometimes split.

Also, statues of a Chinese coolie with a bamboo pole across his shoulders were purchased here.

Another souvenir shop of Taipei

We gave Sam a lot of business.  Living room table lamps and bedside lamps, each with two switches.

One was for the main light; another for the little light inside which illuminated the rice paper which covered the holes.

Brass ornaments were a big deal but we declined. The PX had a table of brass just back of the entrance.

Neither of us can remember what we bought here. Maybe we just liked the facade.

Bonnie's Beauty Salon--no souvenirs, just stylists amazed at cutting blond hair. The Min Chuan/Chung Shan intersection is just ahead to the right.

Photo by, and courtesy of Marvin Faulkner

This photo shows the traffic approaching the northeast corner of Chung Shan North and Min Chuan East Road.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Worst Movie We Ever Saw In Taiwan

Sitting in front of your TV today, you can easily switch over to another channel. This is particularly true if a movie you don't like pops up.

Sitting in a movie theater after paying to get in is another story. Some of us probably saw more movies during our time in the service than any other period of our lives.

Not only did we flock to the East West Theater in the East Compound, but we also went where the movies were. In the Taipei area, there must have been at least five theaters which showed each picture as it made its rounds.

The Army-Air Force Motion Picture Service showed movies not long after they hit the first-run privately owned theaters in the U.S. So, we saw many good, sometimes excellent films.

The Wild Racers starred Fabian (Forte) and Mimsy Farmer. It was made in 1968. It quickly hit the military theater circuit. The night we saw it, a normally large crowd was in attendance at the East West Theater.

Movies usually have a discernible plot and this one started with the dangerous and reckless stock car driver Fabian scaring his fellow racers because of the chances he took on the oval race tracks. Was it mentioned that he liked the babes?

Then, suddenly, he was in Europe, driving Formula One open-wheel cars, the most sophisticated in the world.

The acting was bad, the plot weak and the mantra Fabian repeated endlessly was "I'm Jo Jo Quillico, King of the hillico. And, I've got the MoJo."

After hearing this several times, entire families simply got up and began leaving the theater. This trickle turned into an exodus.

Finally, we couldn't stop laughing as we were about the only ones left in the theater. So, we finally got up and joined the exit-bound masses.

There were a couple of still pictures that were found, but this was the main poster.

How many lovely young women were attracted to Jo Jo?

That guy kneeling was probably telling Fabian not to touch any of the instruments.

Mimsy Farmer was a forgettable, but cute little blond. She had a few other minor roles in slasher and beach movies. She now lives in France with her second husband.

Maybe the film made money in Italy.

Oh, yes, there was a sound track for this movie. The Arrows recorded it. You can imagine the quality of the tunes.

He must have worked cheaply as this dog of a film was released upon an unsuspecting world in 1964.

In 1966, he was a co-star with the always beautiful Annette and Frankie Avalon in this clunker.

To see the movie trailer on this one, click HERE.

He starred as Pretty Boy Floyd in 1970.

There is an addendum to this. Fabian was born in 1943. His number finally came up during the Vietnam War at his local Selective Service draft board.

A doctor submitted a letter stating that induction into the military might cause him to develop homosexual tendencies. He was declared 4F--unfit for military service.

Married three times with three children, Fabian's doctor no doubt saved that young man from a life of agony and abuse.

Some guys joined the National Guard or Reserve Units to avoid going to Vietnam. Others fled to Canada or Mexico. But he had a doctor's letter saying that Fabian couldn't come out and play.

Monday, April 18, 2011

PX Gravity

After showing our IDs to the sour lady who sat right at the entrance to the PX, I would automatically turn left and head to the stereo section. My wife knew where to find me when she was ready to leave.

Other than to see the newest stereo component equipment, there was no other rational reason for me to go there every time.

My first component system was only a couple of years old and why would another system be needed or wanted? At least that is what was going through my mind for about a year.

Bought in 1966 from Allied Electronics in Chicago was a Knight amplifier, Knight tuner, and Garrard turntable with an elliptical Empire or Pickering stylus and cartridge.

Then came two Utah floor speakers with 12 inch woofers, a couple of tweeters and a baffle at the bottom for the low sound to escape from these bass reflex speakers.

Couple that with a nifty pair of headphones from an Olson Electronics store, and I was in business.

Still, my trek to the stereo section continued, checking out the receivers, reel-to-reel tape decks and Scotch 111 tape.

Finally in the summer of 1969, the impulse wouldn't go away, and out came the checkbook and trips to the APO to ship home my new stuff.

Did anyone else subscribe to Hi Fi/Stereo Review which became Stereo Review in 1968?

Once you bought the first catalog and placed an order, Allied would send them frequently. I studied every Ohm, Watt and MRS as though it were a final exam prep.

And here is the heart of my second stereo system. It's the Sansui 5000, which had a hefty price tag, even for then.

There was a Sansui 2000 or 3000, but if you are losing your economic senses, why not go big?  Besides, it was powerful and could easily handle 4 speakers.

Around the end of the 1960s, FM, which long was the home for classical and easy listening music, increasingly became the home for rock music which eliminated the need to find a station from which to record in stereo.

Every feature of this receiver could be described in detail, but doesn't it look beautiful? It was analog, but tuning was a breeze. Using a TV splitter, one could easily run a 300 ohm line into the receiver. Hello, radio world! 

My ultimate goal was to someday afford a Marantz or McIntosh receiver. But for the next 25 years, this was it. And, it was only in the shop for repairs once. At first, I would switch out the 2 stereo systems every 6 months, but ultimately, this was THE one.

An easier decision was this inexpensive Pioneer PL 25. It came with its own cartridge and stylus and had that nice hinged dust cover.

Guys I would talk with pointed out that it was belt driven, compared to the Garrards, which had gears. That was never a problem for us. It's still under one of our beds.

This SONY TC 355 was also an easy choice as it was an inexpensive model with decent ratings. Other guys were buying the tall and wide TEAC, but this buy turned out to be a good one. We still have it, collecting dust along with the turntable.

The Scotch 111 recording tape for these reel-to-reels would sell out quickly after a shipment came in. Later I found out that guys were recording Chinese albums or parts of them and throwing away the $ 0.30 records.

I just found 3 boxes of Scotch 111 tape. Inside each one is a list of artists and songs. My favorite was THIS.  It could rattle some walls.Tech Control would patch into AFNT-AM and then shove a little speaker into tape relay for us to listen to during the midnight shift.

This isn't the kit that was bought, but it's close to our Pioneer speaker kits. Later on, the enclosures were built. But first of all the arrangement of the 12 inch woofer, 6 inch mid- range, 2 tweeters and one super tweeter had to be figured.

They were acoustic suspension speakers, which essentially meant that no air could enter either speaker. That resulted in purer sound, but no thumping, glass-shattering bass. 

Here is the entire system on display. The SONY reel-to-reel is above the left speaker. There are a couple of cassette tape decks plugged into the Sansui. This looks like sometime in the late 1980s.

There's an end to my ramblings. We had an auction before we moved down here, and a rainstorm hit near the end of it. This happened before the stereo stuff came up for sale.

Most people left, but one guy was hanging around all afternoon. He walked off with the Sansui, Knight amp, Knight tuner, a casette deck and 4 floor speakers for $100.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

East Compound, Taipei, Taiwan

There are several pictures of the main East Compound that appear in most everyone's Taiwan blog or website.

These few are being added since they give another look of not just the buildings, but also the cars in the parking lot and the movie being shown.
Taken from across the street, this picture shows the main entrance to the East Compound on a hot summer day.

Photo by, and courtesy of Marvin Faulkner

Across from the East Compound again, this picture isn't redundant.

Look closely and you can easily see that this was taken during the Christmas season with all the decorations. It was December of 1968.

APO 96263 had an annex back of it as well.

With the hot dog and cold drink vendor near the entrance, the commissary was always a place with long checkout lines.

Notice the red AMC Javelin in the parking lot near the PX. How about its brothers, the Marlin and the Pacer?

Not only was this building the PX Annex to the left, but there was a currency exchange on the right. That large truck sold ice cream, food and drinks, as I remember

The annex was where I tried to buy caulk and a caulk gun. Maybe I should have asked for putty as caulk was not known to them.

It was actually called the East West Theater, and the movie that night was The Helicopter Spies, staring Robert Vaughn. It was a pretty big hit as it was a takeoff on his role as The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  David McCallum (NCIS) was also in it.

Does anyone else remember emerging from the theater after the late movie on a hot summer night and being engulfed by the pervasive smell of the nearby benjo ditch?

To the right of the theater was the library. Left of the theater was a small path which led to the other part of the East Compound and Mr. Loo's tailoring shop. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Then And Now Pictures of Grass Mountain, Taipei, Taiwan, 20th and 21st Centuries

We all seem to enjoy "then" and "now" pictures, but, thanks to the Roske family, the four  shown here were very striking to me.

Hopefully, there will be more photos in the future that we can add to what is shown here.

*Here are some more then and now pictures from 1969 and 2012.

In late August of 1969, these pictures were taken of our Grass Mountain station. They were then overlapped to show the entire site.

It may have been a stormy day, but the angle of this picture shows many changes at the old site.

The little day room is now a two story barracks. Also, the main communications building has been added onto in a couple of directions.

The back road entrance we used is now be closed.
Here we have the main entrance gate as it looked in 1969.

In 2010, just the front gate alone indicates one of the many changes to the place over the last 40+ years.

*Here are 5 more picttures from 1969 and 2012

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Kaohsiung's First Hotel, Then And Now

One of the earliest contributors and supporters of this blog was LTC Scott Ellinger. In fact, he found the Grass Mountain work site. At that time, I thought it had been demolished.

He now has seized upon the posting of Marvin Faulkner's photos of the First Hotel in Kaohsiung. So, we have then and now pictures of the place. It's uncannily close to the fate of the Majestic Hotel in Taipei. 

As you can see, the First Hotel, Marvin's home from 1968-69 is still standing. However, now it is the Sunny Bank!

LTC Ellinger has made it quite convenient for us onlookers to see that the building is still standing, columns and all.

And, to top it off, LTC Ellinger reads and writes Mandarin. The name and purpose of the building has changed, but the characters on the side still say "First Hotel."