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

Friday, August 16, 2013

Summer Heat Wave

More thoughts from Joe Brooks

     I don't know about you other people, but I cast a five by five shadow, and while I like the summer heat and all that, I find this “unusual” Taipei weather a bit wearing.  However, have you ever noticed the funny things that people do when the weather gets hot, either in an attempt to get cool or maybe it’s just the heat that gets them.

     Everyone has noticed the relief-hungry natives who sleep in the grassy parkways as well as on the cement in an effort to capture a few stray cool breezes which their second-floor quarters would never get.  Going out South Chung Shan Road the other night, my pedicab almost ran over a body sprawled in the middle of the road.  After assuring ourselves that “it” was alive and uninjured, I asked the individual why he slept there.

     “Aren’t you afraid a car will come along and smack you into the middle of the next re-incarnation?”  I queried. 

    "I’ve been sleeping both here and on the cement curb for more than four years now.  Last summer, when I was sleeping on the grassy part of the parkway I was bitten by a water buffalo which was pulling a honeycart.  But nothing’s happened to me here – yet.”

     Having nothing more to say in that conversation I told my pedicab boy, “Drive on, Kwan.”

     Stopped at the baseball park during a scorcher, (the day, not the baseball game) and sweated out a few innings.  Noticed that several young stalwarts were not facing in the direction of the game, so I turned my head to the focal point of interest.  Two “local” girls had driven up on bicycles for the same purpose, I suppose, as the rest of us.  Dropping the bike-stand, they balanced themselves on the seat with their feet propped on the handlebars. 

     What with the hot weather and maybe the laundry slow in coming back, the shapely, highly matured and rather beautiful girls had not worn anything – that is, anything – under their street dress.  To add to the comfort and confusion, or maybe I’m writing this in the wrong order, they had taken off their shoes, and their bare, little – toes – were wiggling in the sun like mad.

     Suddenly aware of the attention, rapt and wrapt, which had fastened itself upon them, one girl nudged the other and whispered in her ear.  Whereupon they both giggled self-consciously, sedately draped their head-bandannas over their feet and conversations observed, kept on watching the game.  Nobody knows who won the game but now I know why so many people are baseball fans in Taipei.

     One of the cutest hot-weather dodges I ever saw was played on a city cop near a certain water fountain in Keeling.  The little street-gamin were filling the air with their happy cries, the cop was sweating wishing it was time to go home and several little tykes were plotting grave things.

     Suddenly one of them, chosen be some mysterious means which kids use to select martyrs, unwrapped a bandage from his leg, roughed the partly healed abrasions from what was probably yesterday’s casualty, wrinkled up his face and burst into mournful howls.  Limping around the water fountain he presented himself to the weary policeman and moaned out his tale of woe with punctuating sobs, furtive swipes at his nose and dramatic pointings at his injured member.

     Perhaps he was tired of standing in the sun, perhaps he had had the same game played on him many times before, perhaps it was a trick that really worked, but the cop took the little kid over to the local police station for the application of emergency bandages.  The treatment at any rate took almost an hour, with the cop sitting in the window drinking tea and discussing the state of crime in the world today.

     And in plain sight, where they appeared the moment his back was turned, the water fountain was filled to overflowing and splashing, capering and squealing kids taking advantage of that precious hour of forbidden time.

Come to think of it, who would have had the heart to kick them out, huh?

Reprinted with permission. 
Joe Brooks wrote a column for the ChinaPost newspaper in the mid 1950s.

  This story and other articles found in this Blog came from his book, 
"From A Yankee Notebook in Taiwan"

Find more information about Joe Brooks and this series of articles HERE

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