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.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Major Betty's, Taipei, Taiwan

For all of us who believe in the of freedom to establish a business with very little government interference, Major Betty's was the pinnacle of this economic philosophy.

Not only was she an independent contractor and mentor to many, but she also eluded the tax people for years.

If she had been a politically active American, her party of choice would have been the Libertarian. If not, she would have been an Independent.

Unfortunately, we have no pictures to confirm her palace of pleasure, nor do we have an exact location from which she plied her expertise.

Maybe that's the way it should be. The place was part myth, part legend and wholly owned by a sole proprietor.

Most of us knew the location simply as "down there" or "near this place."

Regardless, if a person wished to find her office, it certainly wasn't hard.

We can all agree, I believe, that  this institution had a rich oral history.

Not all of Taipei's nighttime fun was limited to the area near the Chung Shan and Min Chuan intersection.  Linsen North Road was quite familiar to many of us who bounced around downtown.

Linsen North is actually a shortcut for the clever cab driver. It begins way downtown and runs north next to Chung Shan North Road until it dead ends at the Min Tsu East Road intersection.

The Google Earth maps of today showing this area very much coincide with the great maps of 1970 that can be found on Nightlife I and II.

Just click  this link and look for yourself. If you like maps, you will have hit the jackpot.

We are looking north across Min Chuan East Road.  Above us, and all around the intersection is the pedestrian overpass which is still used today.

It crosses over Min Chuan East Road and Linsen North Road. 

That primary school on the right was there in 1970 and still takes up a considerable amount of real estate east and north of this vantage point.  It makes sense to have a secure walkway to the school.

On the previous post, the day and night photos of downtown Taipei were taken from the bridge across Min Chuan East Road. 

As the stairway comes down on the east side of Linsen North Road, the wall around the primary school can be easily seen. 

The buildings on the left seem to be mostly new.  

As the road progresses northward, the murals on the walls surrounding the primary school show how large this educational area was, and still is. 

Photo by Carpenter 1970; Courtesy of

An alley marks the end of the school.  In 1970, this picture of the Union Hotel shows what was standing directly on the other side of the alley. 

It was a fairly new hotel in 1968.  Our Grass Mountain NCOIC and his family stayed there until their house in Tien Mou was ready for residency. 

It is easier today to see how the wall surrounding the school stops at the alley.  On the other side of the alley where the Union Hotel once stood is a hospital. 

After my checking with the foremost experts in Taipei architecture, the consensus seems to be that the building we see is not the basic Union Hotel with many many additions to it. 

So, here is the hospital and a direct view east. This alley (lane) and all streets heading east in this area led eventually to a locally famous benjo ditch back then.

Eventually, crossing this ditch led to a commercial area full of goods and services and services for sale.  

For those of you familiar with this area at one time, the change to it is impressive. This is the Nongan Street intersection.

Turning left leads to the Florida Bakery near the Chung Shan North Road intersection.

Turning right led to the ditch in the 1960s, but now a right turn offers a few surprises.

This is Nongan Street heading east near the present-day overhead expressway.

What we have is a 24 hour hotel. Yes, check in and out at any time, any day. I'm told that this is a perfectly innocent convenience of a legitimate hotel.

In our Taipei days, there were many of these short-term rests for the weary.  Some rented by the hour or a little more. Whether the linen, sheets and pillow cases were changed was a different story.

Continuing north, we approach the familiar Imperial Hotel on the left.

The Imperial was a going concern in 1968, but was not included on the list of recommended hotels in the 1967 guide book used many times in this  blog.

It was also off-limits to those on R and R.
Today, however, it is rated as a 4-Star hotel by some travel agencies.

The lanes on either side of the Imperial lead to many bars and pubs. Whether the difference in names today is of any practical significance I don't know.

Back in the Vietnam War years, there certainly was a profound difference when an establishment called itself a bar or a club.

Continuing north, on the east side of Linsen is a tailor shop touting its quality.

The temple on the northwest corner signifies the approach to the Dehui Street intersection.

After passing through this intersection, we are getting closer to the area made famous by The Major.

It's one of the three alleys remaining on the left (west) side of Linsen North Road.

This is alley A which runs behind what once was the President Hotel and the old temple.

Next is alley B which might have been just another lane. This and the other 2 lanes can be traveled using Google Earth Street View.

Finally we pass alley C which, today, is just south of the Riviera Hotel. The hotel wasn't there in the 1960s.

The Riviera stands at the corner of Linsen North Road and Min Tsu East Road.

The gate across the street is at the approximate entrance to the old Signal Compound.

Back in 1968-69, Min Tsu East Road was a two lane street that was not heavily traveled. Its widening began in the summer of 1969.

So, was it located near alleys A, B, or C.?

Maybe it was situated somewhere else, or headquarters may have been constantly changing to avoid the intangible tax.

If you would like to participate, perhaps we can get it nailed.

First, you might want to check a 1970 map at the Dawgflight link above.

Then send an anonymous comment indicating your vote. All legitimate comments will be welcomed.

Don and Kent have posted some remarkable topics and have gotten little or no response in the form of a comment.

Now is the opportunity to take a little time and give us the skinny!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Casablanca Bar, Taipei, Taiwan, 1968

As has been mentioned before, it was raining fiercely that day in early June, 1968, when we landed in Taipei.

After we did some preliminary processing in, we were assigned a room at the Navy Barracks in the Signal Compound.

That night, the rain let up and we decided to see what was happening downtown.

We followed the yellow line from the Signal Compound on Linsen North Road at the top of this photo and walked about 800 yards south to Min Chuan East Road.

We then were lost, so we turned right until we could read a sign in English.

Just a few steps and we saw a neon sign we could easily read.

 It was the Casablanca Bar, and we decided to stop in.

Card from D. Price; Courtesy of

This is such a great card that there is almost too much information on it. The American Hotel was the greatest example off a true R and R hotel.

 "Welcome Defenders Of Freedom" greeted us as we entered this hotel of about 20 rooms and a bar with 6 stools. Shoulder patches of about every uniit in the Armed Forces were glued on the lobby walls.

Photo by R. Reesh, via Kent Mathieu; Courtesy of

But before entering the hotel back of it, we first stopped at the Casablanca. The 4 or 5 of us saw a well-drilled team go into action. They obviously had prepared for this part of a potential contract many times before.

With lightning precision, we were each singled out by a young lady, and she quickly ordered herself a "cocktail" in a shallow wine glass which contained a cola drink.

We didn't wait for round 2 and quickly explained that we were stationed in Taipei and were not there on R and R.
Just as fast as we were divided and set up to be conquered, we found ourselves back   on the sidewalk, looking in.

So, on our first night in Taipei, we suddenly found out the difference between a bar and a club. Fortunately, the price we paid for this lesson was only 50 cents--the price of the cola.

Photo by S. Swallom; Courtesy of

This picture and the one that follows were taken from a pedestrian overpass which is still there. We are looking west as Min Chuan East Road, coming from Taipei International Airport passes beneath us.

The Casablanca Bar can be seen on the right.. During the day, Taipei wasn't a very visibly attractive and inviting city for the adventurer.

Photo by M. Hine; Courtesy of

At night, Taipei, as well as many other cities and towns came alive. This was part of Taipei's charm. Thinking back, the major roads may have had adequate lighting, but the streets and alleys were a little short on the wattage which was just fine.

This picture and the one above it show how the city's ambiance changed as the sun set. Streets became narrower and the neon lights couldn't match Broadway's, but they beckoned many servicemen to their source.

The Casablanca's oval can be seen on the right.

This isn't the same angle as the first Casablanca picture, but this location convinced me that the building was the bar as remembered.

Here you can see the front of the old building's facade as it appears now, with the alley beside it plainly in view.

Facing it head on, the old bar seems authentic. The same can't be said of the Shanghai Bar, once right beside it, but now demolished.

Finally, we can all see that the old Casablanca has been attached to a building behind it. If that black building had any significance in 1968, let me know. No memories for me here.