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.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Four Roses Bar, Taipei, Taiwan, 1958

We all had our private places of relaxation and fellowship. Before the Vietnam War, Taipei had a few bars and clubs that were not owned nor supervised by the US military.

When this picture popped up, on went my double-billed hat and the challenge of finding its old location began.

As usual, comments from the viewers of this photo were quite helpful.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Someone had given Tom the address of the Four Roses Bar. It was 21 Chung Shan (Zhongshan) North Road, Section 3, Taipei. Note the barbed wire and lack of neon.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Tom has this updated picture of the present-day location. Notice the trees. We're getting closer.

Next came an address check of the Florida Bakery. It is 23-25 Zhongshan North Road, Section 3, Taipei.

This was becoming too easy to find.

Today, the bakery is no longer on the corner of Zhongshan North and Nongan Street. A 7-Eleven is situated there.

This area is familiar (almost hallowed) ground for all of us who spent any time in downtown Taipei.

The Florida Bakery can be seen at the far left.

Next to it in 1968-71 (at least) were the OK and Suzie Wong Bars, standing side-by-side. Anyone on R and R during that time can relate.

So here is the Florida Bakery near the intersection of Nongan Street and Zhongshan North Road.

Today, all of the bars that once occupied much of the area south of the bakery have been replaced by a succession of bridal shops. Are you noticing the irony?

Here is the area once home to the Four Roses Bar.

Cherry Ho went to the effort of dodging traffic to line up the picture.

My attempts to contact Cherry Ho have not met with success. Regardless, grateful former military men say "Thank you, Cherry Ho!"

Kent Mathieu has taken many walking tours of Taipei and the surrounding area since 2010. On this one, at about 4:30 on the timer, he passes right by the old bar area. Also included is the Florida Bakery.

Just click HERE and begin the 10 minute journey, starting at the intersection of Zhongshan North and Minquan East/West looking at the old King's Hotel and 77 Club. Kent's videos can be found on YouTube under hawaiikent.

Sure, the bar is gone, but its namesake and taste still lingers.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Green Lake, Taipei, Taiwan, 1957-58

 Almost south of Taipei is a lake which provides a relaxing and peaceful break from the craziness of the bustling downtown area of Taipei.  Bitan Lake, known to us as Green Lake, is situated in the Xindian District in the extreme southern part of Taipei.   

It appears to be right on the Xindian River.  To check for yourself, here are the coordinates for Google Earth.  24 57'26.06"N, 121 32'09.47"E.

Many pictures have been taken of the area over the decades, but probably the best ones are in a section of which can be seen by clicking HERE

A modern-day collection of pictures of the lake can be seen at Kent Mathieu's  You can view Kent's collection by clicking HERE

Fortunately, my little guide book contained a page on Pitan Lake. The time period here is 1966.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Although this photo of Green Lake is over 50 years old, it appears as though it could have been taken today.
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

One of the unique features of Bitan Lake is the pedestrian suspension bridge. If this photo were a painting, it could be a Courier and Ives. It's perfect. 
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

The mountains in the background provide a beautiful view along the Xindian River area. 
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

This is a coal mine located near the lake itself.

Jason Chen gave permission to show his stacking of Tom Jones' picture with his own present-day photo of the same area.
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

This is simply a picture of a boat transporting folks.

Again, Jason Chen has taken Tom's 1957 photo and stacked it with a 2012 picture. Whatever Jason has circled is unknown.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Living In Taipei, 1957-58

10 years before our group of draftees arrived in Taiwan, U S military men were told they HAD to live in non-government housing. Our bunch would have cheered at that news.

Not that the barracks at the Grass Mountain facility were terrible, nor was the food at the mess hall inedible. It was the 10 miles from Taipei that cramped many lifestyles.  

Let's hope that Tom and his friends received an extra allotment for their living arrangements. Tom wrote that the best thing about cooking and eating locally was the ultimate result of strengthening his immune system.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

One of these apartments is where Tom lived during his Taipei days. Decades later a commenter on this picture told Mr. Jones where he thought his address was

Lane 55, Section 3, Chung Shan (Zhongshan) North Road just south of Min Tsu (Minzu) East Road. That's the address he was given, and the red line indicates its location.

In 1968, Min Tsu East was a narrow paved road that consisted mainly of foot traffic and motorcycles. In 1957, it probably wasn't paved and the same might have been true of Min Tsu West Road.

Minzu East ran directly beside the entrance to the Signal Compound.

The apartments were on the south side (right side) of the lane. The building at the left is on the southeast corner of Minzu East and Zhongshan North Roads.  

The photo below is this same area in 1957-58 except it iis flip-flopped horizontally, with the apartments on the left..

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

This is Lane 55, with the apartments on the left (south side) of the lane.  On the right is a large ditch which is in front of Min Tsu East Road. 

Chung Shan North Road is at the top of this picture.  The children are on their way to Chung Shan Elementary School.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

This is part of the PSD compound. It was not far from where Tom lived. My guess is that this was the beginning phase of the Signal Compound construction.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

It doesn't look like an organized collection of communication buildings, but construction went very quickly in this area in the 1950s and 60s. 
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

This certainly looks like a baseball or softball field.  It is labeled as USCD. Again, my thoughts say that this is what became known as Pacer Field..

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

So, now we know.  This is the construction area of the Navy Commissary in 1957.  If it is near us in this picture, what is the building across from it?  Somebody has to know.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

It certainly looks like Chung Shan North Road and it is. 

One of the commenters on this photo indicated that the large building on the left is MacKay Memorial Hospital which was located at Section 2, 92 Zhongshan North Road.
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

This picture shows the main means of travel within the city at that time.  Buses and pedicabs were plentiful.  Trains were available, but not always convenient.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Enjoying his ride in a pedicab is Don Ranck.  The comments on this picture were more inspired by the beautiful American car in the background. Pedicabs were outlawed by the time we arrived in 1968. 

A mammoth project had taken place as many of the displaced pedicab drivers were educated on how to maneuver a taxi.  Hundreds of red Datsun Bluebirds, made by Nissan, flooded the streets of Taipei. 

Horns blared, tires squealed, gears ground and fenders clashed.  The transition was the Taiwan equivalent of Social Darwinism.  The best of these new drivers continued to earn a living behind the wheel.  The worst sorted themselves out, one way or another.   
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Is this really a portable ice cream wagon?
Answer:  Yes, it is!
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Here is the pool of the Club 63.  We have no pictures of the front of the club itself. 
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

The Club 63 NCO pool, shot from the opposite end of the picture above.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Signal Corps In Taiwan, 1957-58

By the beginning of the Korean War, it became apparent to the U.S. that Taiwan was a major asset in the Western Pacific.  Thousands of Americans began to be assigned to Taiwan as part of our commitment to the future existence of the ROC.

The following posts are possible because an Army Signal Corps soldier took the time to chronicle his Taiwan tour of duty in 1957-58. By then the downtown area of Taipei and other major Taiwan cities were beginning to change. 

Tom Jones was with the Provisional Signal Detachment (PSD) which began linking various parts of Taiwan together.  He arrived from the U.S. as an E4 with an MOS of Fixed Station Transmitter Repair Instructor.  To me, that means he was trained at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey. 

Tom has given our blog the privilege of using some of his 250+ pictures which he took during his deployment.  Fortunately for us, he used 35mm slides which make these old pictures look as though they had just been taken yesterday. 

My friend and TSA blog contributor, Gary Roske, sent me the link to these pictures.  Then I came across a posting by USTDC blogger, Don Wiggins.  It is the same link as Gary's and can be seen by clicking   HERE.  It can be found at Don's blog dated September 21, 2012.

Mr. Jones' photos have been sorted into groups by me which roughly follow Tom's tour of duty in Taiwan.  He has ultimate say over what is being published, so some of these may be changed. 

In this post, all of the photos were taken by Tom.They are being shown with the consent of Tom Jones.  They are protected by his copyrights. Any other photos that may be used will be identified accordingly. 

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones
This is The Oakland Army Base, also know as The Oakland Army Terminal.  It was a prime piece of real estate from which materials and military personnel were shipped to the Pacific starting in WWII, then Korea, and Viet Nam. 

Located near the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the base began its mission in 1942 and continued as part of the military effort until its eventual closing in 1999.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones
This looks like the process in-process out building.  Imagine how many thousands passed through its doors throughout the decades. 

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones
Here is Tom during a Tokyo layover in 1957. 

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

This is the last view of Taipei that Tom took in 1958. We will just turn the plane around and call it the first view one would have of the Taipei skyline in 1957.
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

 With the Keelung River in the middle of the picture, just look up from it and you will see Taipei International Airport in 1957.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Taken from downtown and looking eastward, you can see the main runway of what was to us, Taipei International Airport.  

The IATA. letters were TPE which now belong to the new Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, south of Taipei. The new name of the airport in Taipei is Songshan Airport (TSA).

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

This one of many photos Tom took of the Keelung River which connects with the port city of Keelung.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Here is a 1958 shot of the mouth of the Tamsui River which flows south into Taipei from its northernmost location. 

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

This is the same view in 2012 of the picture shown above. I don't believe Tom took this one.