Taipei Air Station - 1966 - - - " What you have in the end are memories"......... Photo Courtesy of Richard Reesh.

Monday, May 31, 2010

1969 - The Taipei R&R Center

I'm back from a vacation which was in an area where posting or viewing this blog was not possible.

I won't detail my impressions now, but I must say, the BEST part was the fantastic food served in the north . My Doctor scolded me for gaining 4 kilos in 6 weeks, I smiled and told her it was the Kung Pao Chicken, Peking Duck and sliced beef with green onions, all of my favorites. She smiled at me and agreed, telling me to watch my diet. Who watches their diet while on vacation?.........

John Crum, sent photographs of the Sea Dragon Club as it looked in 1969 when he was stationed in Taipei. John said that there were 2 entrances to the club, one side for R&R business and another entrance on the opposite side of the building for normal club activities, food and beverages.

I remember visiting the club when it was the old Fleet Reserve Association Club, probably in early 1968. I was down there to see how the R&R Center operated.

I arrived as the latest plane load of GI's from Nam was being processed and sent out the door. I could not believe the number of taxi cabs parked along the street, local hotel representatives, and other assorted people standing around outside the fence. It was a regular "Mad House."

All in all, I suspect most of the GI's got what they wanted and had a good R&R in Taipei.

This photo shows two couples walking off down the street from the club. Were these two men R&R GI's?

Also, where is that far corner with what looks like a Hotel sign?

I'm guessing they are walking south and the corner is Min Quan West Road. Your guess?

Can anyone point out where the old Fleet Reserve Club/R&R Center/Sea Dragon Club was located? Do you remember the railroad track which would have been west of the club, how far I don't recall. The railroad track is gone, and the MRT now occupies that right of way as it rises from underground to street level just in the area of the old club, I believe.

I walked down these streets a couple of months ago and the best I could figure out, the old club may have been located in the area now housing the Tatung Museum and offices. I believe the Tatung sign is still visible today. Back in the Day, you could see that sign if you looked south on Chung Shan North Road as you came out the NEX and Commissary Gate.

Another possibility, was the old club on the same street that skirted the Florida Bakery. That corner on the West side of Chung Shan North Road could have led to the club, although Tatung was also located in this area, I'm just not sure.

Here is the area where the old club was located. Can someone pin your best guess of the club's location please. I'm sure the streets have changed a little in the past 40 years also.


Don said...

I never heard of this place when I was there in 1973-74, but have corresponded with guys who used to go there. I wonder when it closed? Maybe when the R&R flights stopped?

BILL-USACC said...

I went to the club when on R&R in 1971. I returned to Taipei in May 73 for a 2 year assignment and it was closed by then.

titojohn said...

My best estimate as to where the FRA Club was located.

Lat: 25° 3'52.65"N
Long: 121°31'17.37"E

It would have been located at the northern end of where that big warehouse looking building is presently located. That empty space to the west of the building looks like what might have been the club parking lot.
From what I can recall, the demise of the FRA Club was around 1967/68 timeframe. It was necessitated because the club lost its tax-free status due to a change in the Status of Forces Agreement. Without the tax-free status the club was not eligible to purchase tax-free booze, and food from the Navy Commissary. With the added expense of running the FRA Club, they could not afford to pay the building lease. After that, the club was taken over by the Navy and renamed Sea Dragon. Shortly thereafter it was turned into an R&R Center. The lower portion was a mini-mart/PX, while the upper floor of the building was a restaurant.
Now, I can’t swear that I am entirely correct in my recollection, but after 40 years, whose is?
I too, went to the club while on R&R in 1971.

BILL-USACC said...

I think John is right..there was a PX on the first floor which sold necessity type stuff.
I do know on R&R we were taken from the Sung Shan airport by bus and received a military briefing on what to do and to stay out of trouble.
My friends and I stayed at the Kings Hotel which was only a short walk away.

Sarj said...

I went on google and looked and looked but to no avail. Here is how I remember where it was and I went there often. Going south on Chungshun about a block or so before you got to the cross street that the Florida Bakery was on you turned right into an alley and behind the first building was a parking lot and the Navy Club was on the right side of the parking lot. I know there was a couple of ways to enter but I usually entered into the bar. beside the bar room downstairs was the slot machines and change office where you got coins to play and could buy chits. Tickets to spend for meals and drinks in case you went bust before pay day. upstairs was a dining room and a small dance floor. the whole place wasn't very big at all. It was for drinking and eating and gambling only.
The building in the photo looks something like the place but ? maybe from a different angle? I have on photo on USTDC of me and my wife inside playing the slots.

titojohn said...

I agree with Sarj as to the location of the club. It's a bit to the north of where I previously posted. Google Earth put the coordinates approximately here:

25° 3'56.38"N

John Quinn