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

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chinese Santa Claus


     Who ever heard of a Chinese Santa Claus?  Well, I did.  I even saw him and he is practically a neighbor of mine.

     Go to Section 1 on North Chung Shan Road at the intersection of Lane 136.  Usually you will find him outside near the mouth of the lane, but on rainy days he moves his little stand under the arcade of the building.

     He is the most interesting Santa Claus I ever saw – and the children all love him.  No one ever could doubt what his popularity rating is with the small fry.

     Like all things Chinese, he is a little different from the conventional Santa Claus.  The first thing is his beard.  It doesn’t grow where the regular S.C. appendage hangs.  His hirsute foliage cascades down from under his jaw; where I carry my spare chin.

     But his shop, one of those little portable stands you see on so many corners is just what any Santa Claus would want it to be.  This shop doesn’t carry cigarettes or matches or any of the things that would be of no use to kids.  His little stand is loaded with marbles, candy, nuts, tricks and games and anything that is small enough to be handled in a business like his; and big enough to fill a youngster’s heart.

     I have watched him so many times waiting with a patient smile while some little tyke decides with arduous sighs and wrinkled bow what particular treasure he can choose which will give him the most for the ten or twenty cent piece clutched in his hand.

     And when he deals with his customers he gives all the grave consideration to a sale for a Taiwan ten cent piece that more affluent merchants give to the customer purchasing a watch or jeweled bracelet in a goldsmith’s shop.  Weighing the pros and cons of the advisability of buying two marbles or a stick of candy or a handful of jawbreakers, he affords interest and sympathy to his little friends like a magistrate dispensing advice to a client.

     Every day is Christmas in our neighborhood, because we have our own Santa Claus.  He isn’t there just one day a year either and we can see him and talk to him and be warmed by his smile and his love whenever we begin to doubt.

    Drop over sometime and see our Chinese Santa Claus.  

Reprinted with permission

This article and others previously posted on this Blog were originally published by Joe Brooks in the early 1950's when Joe resided in Taipei.

Who is Joe Brooks?  Find out - HERE


A couple of days ago I walked down to Chung Shan North Road along the west side of the street toward the Grand Hotel.
I wanted to see what Lane 136 looked like today.  Maybe there was an old toy store there?  I looked up and down both sides of the street, unfortunately, Lane 136 was gone.
In the 1950s there were many lanes and alleys in that area.  Lane 136 would have been located a short distance from Nanking Road.  As new shops and offices were built, many of the old lanes and alleys disappeared into the foundations of new construction.
All was not lost.  I discovered a Lane running west off Chung Shan with a resemblance of buildings that may have been standing in the 1950s.     

This old lane is south of where Lane 136 probably sat. Look way down the lane,
there's an old cart siting down there.  What did it carry long ago?

I guess old Santa has moved north. 
Many Taiwan children will be waiting.  

Christmas has made inroads into Taiwan, you see it everywhere.

Merry Christmas!


sarj said...

I would like to think that we have known a man like this in our life. I know the type and I have known a couple in my life. One was a bus driver and it was their calling to make people smile and feel important. Great story thanks. By the way who is the illustrator that does the sketches? I like the style but can't make out the name.

keth said...

The illustrator is Paul Kuo. I have a couple of books from Taiwan that he illustrated. He also did a caricature of my dad one night in the officer's club. What wonderful memories -1960-62.