USASTRATCOM

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 Dawgflight.com/Taipei 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 Dawgflight.com

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!



15 comments:

  1. From my fleeting memory of the time, I'm thinking it was B. As for being anonymous, I'm pretty sure the statute of limitations has run out on any involvement I may have had in said Major's business activities.

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  2. There was a restaurant across the street with STEAKHOUSE in big neon letters. I will say B.

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  3. To the best of my recollection, one had to stand in line, go up the stairs and enter a waiting room - 4 or 5 at a time. She worked at the train station during the day.

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  4. I was stationed at Shu Linkou 1971. I don't remember the place being that far North, but I do remember the address was #14. And I remember it being on the south side of whatever Lane it was on. Doing a google map search I see that #14 is on the south side of all the Lanes. #14 on Lane 43 (choice B) looks most like the place to me, but it's been a long time. I just don't remember that park to the west of #14. We would have walked down the lane from that direction, and I don't remember a park. I do remember an E7 Chief Petty Officer named "dirty" Dan lived directly across the street from #14. He was passed out in the waiting room in uniform one night. Not that I have first hand knowledge of the incident, it's just one of the stories. Another story is of the soldier that pushed the buzzer at #14 and the door was opened by another GI and several more waiting in line on the stairway. The latest arriving GI said "what the &*#$, there's a line?". The response from the other patrons was "....so you were expecting a virgin?"

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  5. Pretty clear memory for something that happened over 40 years ago. It is a good thing you did not succumb to temptation!

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  6. Oh, I have vivid memories of things that happened in that neighborhood.

    Two of my duty section mates rode a water buffalo down Min-chuan E. Rd, one fell off and sprained both wrists.

    One night the PMO was called to the Imperial Club to quell a disturbance by my duty section and two mates were thrown in the paddy wagon. Somehow they managed to escape but the PMO had their ID cards. They turned themselves in the next morning.

    The same group got into a disagreement with the mama-san of another establishment in that neighborhood and wanted their money back. Something about a young lady biting a sailor's tongue. There was a no refund policy. The group decided it needed some leverage, took a piece of furniture and hid it down a nearby alley. Mama-san wouldn't negotiate and called the PMO. The PMO told my mates to give the furniture back. When they went to get it, someone had taken it. They were thrown in the pokey again.

    Sad what a few beers can do to otherwise decent young men.

    Rumor also had it that if you were short on cash the Major would accept apples from the HSA commissary - kind of like a "major" credit card.... "what's in your wallet?"

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  7. I had spent several evenings at her establishment. I still remember the dim lights in the living room with several couches for us GIs to wait at. A friend Jerry Jordan actually took her picture but the room was dark and I don't believe the picture came out well. I was there from 71-72..

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  8. Thanks for sharing your memories. John

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  9. The Major AKA "Good Pork Betty" was well known by the the guys on the hill (Shu Linkou Air Station). She was a legend and some our guys were friends of hers. SP/5 Meloe 05H 1968-1969

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  10. Does Ditty-Bopper have any meaning to you?

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  11. A Ditty-Bopper was a NSG (Naval Security Group) CT(R) brancher, that listened to and copied radio signals in Morse Code - Long and short sound tones.

    Phonetically the long tones are called 'dahs' and the short tones 'dits'. Thus the term Ditty-Bopper or Ditty Chaser. Some Air Force Security Service (AFSS) and Army Security Agency (ASA) personnel did the same type of work and may have also been referred to as Ditty-Boppers.

    Military personnel in each of those 3 groups worked at Shu-Linkou AS (up the hill) from 1955 to 1977.

    Dah-dah-dit Dit Dah
    Dit-dit-dit Dah-dah-dah Dah-dah Dit
    Dah Dit-dit Dah-dah-dah Dit
    Dah-dah-dah Dah-dit
    Dah Dit-dit-dit-dit Dit
    Dit-dah-dit Dah-dah-dah Dah-dit-dah-dit.

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  12. I had the good fortune of being a recipient of Major Betty's services during the Summer of 70. I was on TDY to Shu Linkou from Clark Air Base. I had heard about her exploits in Tech School at Keesler before being stationed in the PI. Everything I heard about her was true, she was amazing and not a myth by any stretch of the imagination. She actually had papers making her a Major in the USAF. I visited her on more than one occasion. It was so different in Taipei than in the PI or Nam. You could be on the streets at any hour and not feel threatened. Watch out when the Aussie's came to town! All the ladies were busy for a few days.

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  13. A friend insists that Betty's was a west side establishment while others seemed to think her home office was close to the Signal Compound near the East Compound.

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  14. To my recollection b is the alley. The small sheds along the side hosted another industrial strength oral tradition. Someone once told me he had arms and legs in the air saying to himself "If momma could see me now!"

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