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, May 31, 2011


Doing research for posts sometimes brings back memories of strange encounters. It began, in this case, in 1968 at the Sea Dragon Club in downtown Taipei..

As pointed out in my Sea Dragon Club post, my Taipei evenings usually started in the stag bar area which was located at the front of the club.

I was happily putting quarters in my favorite Williams pinball machine when it began. James Brown was singing Cold Sweat which was no big deal.

However, this particular song was also being shown on a Wurlitzer which had a video screen. A young lady was dancing on the screen while James sang.

I don't know if it was an experiment or what, but I'd never seen anything like it before or since.

All kinds of key phrases have been googled, but no acknowledgement of this video/jukebox by Wurlitzer can be found. Does anyone else remember this machine?

What was found, however, was the precursor of the music video. It was as large as a refrigerator, had a 26 inch screen, and played 16mm films with an embedded soundtrack.

It was a European invention and lasted during the decade of the 1960s. It was called the Scopitone.

Almost all scopitone videos emphasize DANCING.

These video music boxes were first invented in France. Germany and England were next to catch onto this new technology.

Jane Morgan is an American singer shown and heard on this French video. She is still alive and her ability to sing in several languages served her well. Check out the dancers in this SONG.

By the time scopitone reached America, its popularity began to fade. Headquarters was in Chicago. 

This video is by Nancy Sinatra. Do you like BOOTS? 

The picture on the screen may be Joi Lansing. Who cares---watch THIS.

Some singers had bigger hits in Europe than the US. Jody Miller stars in THIS.

How about Neil Sedaka? Watch how many times he changes jackets. Do you have a favorite MONTH?

The Exciters and a ZOO

Herb Alpert and a TAXI

Bobby Vee in a strange VIDEO

Monday, May 23, 2011

Jukebox Saturday Night

Most every place that had a pinball machine also had a jukebox. Taipei was no exception. Many clubs and bars had a jukebox and they were usually made by Wurlitzer.

Just as there were 3 major manufacturers of pinball, jukeboxes were made by just a few companies. Wurlitzer is probably the best known since it was the biggest of the jukebox companies, and is still around.

Wurlitzers were made in Detroit.  The company is now part of Gibson Company which makes guitars, jukeboxes and Baldwin pianos.

The other 2 major jukebox manufacturers were Seeburg and Rockola. Both companies had their headquarters in Chicago.

Seeburg had its greatest years of production in the 1950s. At one time, it owned the Williams pinball company. By the late 1970s it was gone.

The Rock-Ola company was begun by David Rockola.  It also declined during the 1970s and is now privately owned. 

There is a reason for this post's title. To find out why, click HERE.  Remember Teresa Brewer? Try this HERE. Everything has a history. It gets better.

Created in the 1940s, this jukebox was also a work of art with its neon tubes and 78 RPM records.

There were usually 24 selections and the records were played either horizontally or vertically. The stylus was steel.

This is a huge Wurlitzer from the 1950s. By that time, 45 RPM records were being played and the number of selections could be as many as 200.

Just put in your money, push a letter and then a number. Your selection would be played shortly. That is unless it was B-17.

This Rock-Ola machine was on E-Bay for $3K. A fully restored 1940s jukebox by any manufacturer is about $10K.

 A rebuilt 1950s machine goes for about $4K. Records are not included.

At the same burgers and fries restaurant in our hometown was a Seeburg jukebox. It was next to the Gottlieb pinball machine.

And, being in the Midwest, when we selected Ain't That A Shame, we got THIS, instead of THIS That held true for Tutti Frutti. We heard THIS, instead of THIS.

Record company executives thought that Pat Boone would be a more acceptable singer of this Rock and Roll trash by white parents. Or so the story goes.

Another Wurlitzer is shown here. The basic 1950s machine continued into the 1970s until electronic printed circuit boards and CDs ruined the mood for millions.

In 1965, my friend and I were at a pizza joint when someone must have loaded the machine with quarters. For the next hour, we heard one song only. You only have to listen ONCE.

These are all restored and ready to be sold. Check these repaired videos by clicking HERE. Another repair/restore video can be seen  HERE and HERE. 

Now, here are some machines in ACTION. Here is another TUNE. And, finally, THIS.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Not A Pinball Wizard

I got hooked on pinball when I was in the 5th grade. My friend Bill and I stopped by the local burger and fries joint.

Back in the corner was the pinball machine. They had been around for some time, of course, but I had never played.

Bill had played before, and into the slot went the nickel. Now, being a Midwesterner, I should point out the make of the machines we played. They were made by the Gottlieb Company of Chicago.

There was no gambling involved. The goal was to rack up enough points to win a free game.

So that particular game began. Bill was talking to the machine, giving it Body English, and clicking the flippers at the proper time. He was smitten.

Then, he shook the table a little too much and on came the "Tilt" light. Game over. But Bill, who was just talking to the machine lovingly, suddenly let loose with a torrent of expletives aimed at that inanimate object.

I was a convert. For the next two decades, wherever I went, there always seemed to be a Gottlieb pinball machine around somewhere.

Playing was a pleasure; winning was a thrill. Restaurants, bowling alleys, and bars were usually the places they were found.

The Sea Dragon Club had one in the stag bar, and it and I became attached, so to speak. Now, it was a Williams, a company which also made pinball machines, but one with whom I wasn't familiar.

It took many quarters, but eventually the rules became understandable to me and the pursuit of free games began. That same Williams pinball machine was there during our entire 15 month tour.

The Club 63 had pinball machines, but those were for gambling and were made by Bally. Not for me.

This is the oldest Gottlieb machine that was found. It not only has 5 separate pinballs, but also has a wooden frame. This puts its age somewhere in the late 1950s.

There were often cigarette burn marks on these as guys used the frame as a holder.

These were electromechanical/relay machines. The sensitivity could be adjusted if a machine were giving out too many free games.

Gottlieb, Williams and Bally, the main manufactures, had their own artists who would often show scantily clad women inviting you to play.

Here is a full view of the machine shown previously. Hundreds of folks have, as a hobby, the complete restoration of these machines.

There is a magazine for pinball enthusiasts as well as conventions where machines are proudly displayed and sometimes sold.

A beautifully restored Gottlieb

A two-player Gottlieb is shown. With the metal frame, this puts it into the 1960s.

 Retail outlets are out there, if you have the money and an understanding spouse.

To see the inside of a restored of a pinball machine, click HERE.  This is for you electrical engineers out there. Click on the 720p if you get a green screen.

The explanation of the headboard is shown HERE. 

Let's play pinball by clicking HERE. A great Williams machine is played HERE. 

And another Gottlieb HERE. Here's Gottlieb's Dancing Lady.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sea Dragon Club, Taipei, Taiwan

The Navy's Sea Dragon Club was shown to us on our short tour of Taipei after we were picked up at the airport. The front facade of the place was visible as we drove by.

This was just before Major Betty's was pointed out in the general direction of the President Hotel. Welcome to Taipei, G.I.

For the next 2 1/2 months, this place was my starting point each evening we were in Taipei. It was a good atmosphere for everyone since it was the center for R and  R.

Altercations were few, the band was good, the spaghetti was excellent and the stag bar in the front was my destination. It was there I renewed my love for pinball.

Favorite songs played there were Eddie Floyd's Knock On Wood  and Sam and Dave's Hold On I'm Comin'  and  Soul Man.

There had been postings about the Sea Dragon Club but its exact location and purpose seemed to be in doubt.

Kent Mathieu posted this photo on his on May 31, 2010. This led to Kent taking his video camera and discovering the old location.

Where the young man is standing are the two pillars which were the club entrance from the back.

Once in, you would immediately go up the steps to the club. The band was plastered against what would be the south wall of the place. The dance floor was adequate.

As stated before, this was the R and R center. It was here that the men on leave registered. Then, the orchestrated exit of each man began.

I was there one night when this weekly ritual took place. On the following film, you will get a quick glimpse of a soldier emerging from the back of the club.

A young kid would grab his gear and lead him to an awaiting taxi. Once in, the soldier is rushed off to a hotel. After that, his 5 days of R and R would begin.

It was fascinating to watch. Just remember that the guys on the bus are now over 60!
So, here is Holiday From Hell-Part 2. Just CLICK HERE. 

After taking the previous shot, I just pivoted 90 degrees to the right to get a shot of a couple of guys and their escorts walking south from the club.

It was nothing more than that to me. However, it had greater meaning to others. Looking down the alley, you might be able to make out a large building on the right. It has a visible sign.

By the way, the concrete wall on the right is still there.

Well, the sign was that of an art gallery which still seems innocent enough.

What was discovered later was that the top floor of this building was a locally famous massage parlor.

As mentioned before, Kent Mathieu filmed the old location of the Sea Dragon Club and its surroundings now.

For video 1 click HERE. 

The coordinates for the club are on the picture above.

The map above by Kent shows much more than the location of the old Sea Dragon Club. For his second video click HERE.

The picture and crude drawing attempts to show the entrance and alley shown in the first two pictures in this posting.

The alley in the second picture of this posting empties out onto FuShun Street.

From here, it's just a short walk to the intersection of Chung Shan North Road and Min Chuan West Road.

To see the end of Kent's journey and the old 77 Club building, click HERE.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Portrait

If you have been following this blog at all, you know that my wife was with me in Taiwan. She arrived in the middle of August,1968 and left a year later.

After she left, I went to this portrait shop which was south of the East Compound on Chung Shan North Road. I took her picture from my wallet and asked how much it would cost for a painting and frame.

The price wasn't really that important since my mind had been made up long before to have this done. Still, it was a consideration. We reached an agreement and they told me it would be ready in a week. 

If Taipei had an overabundance of any occupations, it was tailors and painters.

So, choosing this place was more a matter of them being there for over a year and, what was perceived by me as quality work.

This was the picture I gave them. It was her engagement announcement photo. We were both 21.

In our hometown, it was a big deal for parents to announce the engagement of their daughter to be married.

The man's name was mentioned, but the local newspaper wanted the goods on the bride-to-be.

The same was true for the wedding writeup. She was shown in her wedding dress and the next several paragraphs were all about who else was in the wedding and what they wore.

I was pretty shocked to walk by the place the next day and see the finished painting sitting in the sun, waiting for the paint to dry.

Mr. V. S. Wang had knocked this thing out in less than a day. 

A couple of days later, they had it framed, packaged, and ready to go.

Down to the post office annex in the back I went where the guys crated it and shipped it home.

It arrived before I did. There were three pretty surprised people when they unpacked it.