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

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Interesting Photos from Tom Roberts - Tainan 1956-1958

Tom Roberts, a Technical Representative (Tech Rep,) journeyed to Tainan AS in September 1956, on an assignment with USAF MAAG Taiwan.

Tom's work was on avionics IFF systems.

What is IFF?  "Identification, friend or foe (IFF) is an identification system designed to identify aircraft, vehicles or forces as friendly and to determine their bearing and range from the interrogator. IFF may be used by both military and civilian aircraft.

Today, a few photographs taken during his 22 month tour in the south.

Tom has a number of other photos, which he is sending to me for scanning.  We will get those new photos up at a later time.

 Photo was taken late 1956 - early 1958.

Here is one of the few photos taken during these early years, looking toward the Grand Hotel, from this distance.

Based upon the angle of the wing, it was taken during take-off from Sung Shan AFB.  Tom said he probably took it from the window of a Taiwan Air Force C-46 (No Sweat Airlines,) that flew back and forth between Tainan and Taipei a number of times each week.

The aircraft has just passed over Hostel #2 and the MAAG Officer's Club.  

It looks to be just after dawn. We have heavy cloud cover.  The vehicles have their lights on, there are few people out walking, and very few vehicles on Chung Shan North Road.

Click on this photo, as well as all of the photos in this post for a larger view.

Looking at the photo, Club 63 should be on the right center of the picture, just above the river water. The new club opened in 1956, so it should be there.  Maybe it's too dark to see clearly.  

USAF MAAG Tainan Headquarters offices in this building

Lot's of Jeeps parked around the circle.  There's a Chevy over by the entrance.  Can't make out too much of building from this photo.

Does anyone remember this building and it's location?  We have many readers who were military police and firemen who may recall this building even if it was no longer associated with MAAG.

Tom is not in this photo!   I'm wondering if this man was part of the funeral procession that is passing by down the hill in back of  Tom's hostel.  That photo is just down the page below the black and white photo below.

The building was constructed by a sugar company in 1910 and was used as a Hostel for some years after MAAG arrived in Taiwan.
The building stands today.  I believe it is part of the Wu Gardening Center in Tainan.  

Tom recalls taking breakfast at the hostel on most days.  There were houseboys that took care of everything including cooking in a small Mess Hall located on the first floor.  

These "hostels," located all over the island(s) provided everything for their guests. The services they provided to our men, coaxed a relaxed feeling of peace and contentment to those who resided in these home away from home residences. There were two Taiwan government agencies who operated hostels in Taiwan.  The Foreign Affairs Service Department (FASD) and the Combined Service Force (CSF.)

The road just in back of Tom's hostel.

This photo is loaded with activity.  I believe that's a funeral passing across the road.  The Ox drawn carts have stopped to let the procession pass.  Some of these funeral processions went on and on, fireworks going off, numerous musical groups.   

Off in the distance, a smoke stack.  Where there is sugar cane, there is a sugar refinery close by.   Remember, Tom's hostel was built by a sugar company.  I also see a number of street signs, a water tower, there's a very large pill-box on the corner.  You'll probably find other things.  Nice photo.  Can someone leave us a photo of this area as it looks today.  Thank you for your Comments.

Tainan Officer's Club

Tom spent time here, at the O'Club.  While cleaning this photograph, I tried to read what the white sign said.  Couldn't make it out.  Later I asked Tom if he remembered.  Tom wrote back, "I'm not sure about the sign it may be Country club but it was the O Club with a tennis court, putting green but no pool that is why we were lucky to have the CAT Club.  

The only photos of the Tainan Officer's Club that I have ever seen were taken from the parking lot side.  This view of the club is completely new to me.  

Could someone comment on the O'Club building(s) please.

What is the building off to the right in this photo?

Having dinner in the dining room, which I assume is just inside those windows just ahead of the woman and child, what would you see looking out the windows?  It seems like the view might have been soft and relaxing, kind of like a country club view back in the US maybe?

Tom later wrote, "I found the official of what I called Tainan O'Club is really Officers Social Center (private association."   Wonder why the club had to be a private association in the 1950s?  This bit of information is something new to me.  Anyone know anything about this requirement?  Please comment.

CAT Club Tainan

I believe the Tainan Officer's Club and the Tainan CAT Club had a reciprocal agreement whereas members of each club could utilize either club.  I don't have that in writing, but it seems logical.  Back in the day, "logic" was something that most people followed. 

When I first saw this photo, I immediately thought of the newer homes being constructed in south Texas in the 1950s, where I grew up.  Laid back, one story, brick buildings with large patios, and lots of yard space.  Who could have anything bad to say about the CAT club.  I don't see the BBQ pit, but there was one someplace outside for those parties that were bound to have happened around the pool.  Great photo.  Yes, it was in Tainan, in the 1950s. Last year I drove by this area of Tainan with a group of us who had visited Tainan AB.  There was nothing left where the CAT Club, the O'Club and the MAAG NCO Magambo Club once stood.  It was all gone.

We know, CAT Airlines closed down after the crash of their 727 airliner in 1968.

But, what about the Tainan CAT Club?  My guess it stayed in operation for years.  There are too many cobwebs to sort through.  But,  no matter what, the CAT Club was a oasis for many through the years.

The sign says it all...

The sign does say it all.  During these years, it was the US MAAG in Taiwan and not the individual branches.  

Lot's of military scattered around the area.  Who knew exactly how to get to the MAAG Beach, well, there were signs.  After a few too many at the club, lots of folks headed to the beach club to continue the party!

The traveling puppet show has set-up along the road

Parents and many children awaiting the start of the puppet show.  Entertainment back in the day was scarce and the puppet show and opera would set-up their stages along the roads of Tainan, inviting everyone to come-out for a time of laughter and excitement.  Wonderful!

Something I noticed in the photo was the shave ice machine on the right side of the photo.  You can see a block of ice and a shave machine.  Most of the children had no shoes. There's a small boy with his hands around the pole, keeping an eye on the shave ice machine, dreaming of having a small bowl of ice in his hands.  Another boy siting on the ground next to the pole, he does not look very happy, he knows his chances of getting a bowl of ice are not good.  Not much money for things other than essentials in these days.   

The next 3 photographs were taken high above the harbor in Kaohsiung.

The area where Tom took these photos was a radar site. Only military were allowed on this hill.  These and other photos taken by US military folks are helping fill the void of civilian photographs during this period.

These harbor photos contained loads of embedded dust on the original slides.  When the slides were scanned into digital photographs, they carried the dust along as black and white dots and embellishments in the digital photos. I spent may hours trying to clean these photos, unfortunately, I was not as successful as I had hoped.

Be sure to open these and all of the photos in this story as they fill your screen.  Quite a look at the harbor and this area of Kaohsiung.

Beautiful Kaohsiung Harbor 1956-1958
 The harbor entrance

Longer view looking south

Tom recalled this rock and cement building as being some sort of a bomb shelter.  The brick wall was supposed protection from incoming smaller caliber rounds, which of course, were never encountered.

The circle in front of Tainan Main Station 1956-1958

Believe the Main Station is just behind the trees between the first two bicycles.

I visited last year.  The circle is still there, but, the trees are gone inside the circle.  Below, a photo I took as we walked outside our hotel toward the station.

Tainan Main Station the green building center of photo in distance.

Be sure to double click on this and all photos to get very large view.  

You can see that most of the old trees have been removed from the circle.  They were replaced with palm trees in some places.

Just to the right is the Tainan Hotel.  We stayed at the hotel for one night. 

Hope you enjoyed these old photographs from Tom Roberts.  Keep checking for more of Tom's photos.  

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Please leave your thoughts and comments in our Comment box below.

Thank you.... 



titojohn said...

Thanks to Tom and Kent for keeping alive the wonderful memories of U.S. military life in Taiwan during the 50s and 60s! Great photos.

John Quinn

Anonymous said...

The third photo is horizontally reversed.

Taipei Air Station said...

I have corrected the photo which was horizontally reversed. Thanks for pointing that out. Kent

Bob Kuber said...

I'm Bob Kluber and my dad worked for CAT. I lived across the street from the ball park outfield and on the road leading to the running track. I remember the CAT club and officers club. The building on the right had, among other things, a kiosk for selling cigarettes. My mom would give me a note and I would go there and buy her cigs. Amazing!
I was in Tainan from 53-58. Our old house is still standing (per Google maps) and is now a French restaurant! I'm at