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

Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring Fires

Another story from ...

     In the past few days I have been brought sharply to an awareness that Spring is upon us.  Not to mention the stories of cherry-blossoms blooming in Ali Shan, Yangminshan and all the other places where cherry-blossoms bloom; or the studied disdain which many of the people of Taipei have for that precious overcoat which shielded them from winter's cold, stormy blasts, there are other signs which permeate the air.  These are the harbingers of the Vernal Season - heralds of spring.

     Thousands of visitors to the city zoo have seen the population increase.  Fawns, baby birds, tiny rabbits all have appeared on the scene giving vent to much enthusiasm on the part of the children (young and old alike) who crowd around their apartments.

     There is even a baby monkey who scrambled through the bars to the top of his cage.  Surveying the world through bright, button eyes his attention fell on a dropped newspaper.  One sight of the headlines of today and with a frightened 'eep' he was back to the comparative safety of his mother's arms.  His chattering indicated displeasure with that outside world where his strange "cousins" had made such a mess of the simple business of earning their "coconuts and bananas."

     But spring is evident in more ways than one.  Chinese men differ from Westerners, not so much in their liking or not liking a well-turned-ankle, but in the way they display their approval.  By such a statement I hold that Chinese gentlemen do not stand on street corners with porkpie hats, swinging a long chair while giving out with jive talk punctuated with soul felt whistles.  For them, the five-thousand-years of accumulated Chinese culture has brought on a more adept means of displaying this appreciation, sometimes involuntarily.  One such incident took place just a day or so ago in New Park.

     An old gentleman sat on the park bench, engrossed in his reading and oblivious to the scores of children galloping around his feet, office workers strolling through the winding walks and soldiers sunning themselves on the inviting grass.  His tiny, half-moon spectacles occasionally glinted in the sunlight as he twisted his head into a more suitable position to make out the lines of print.  

     Occasionally, too, the scholarly ancient would nod his head in impending sleep, catching himself only just in time to prevent the spectacles from sliding over the tip of his nose.  In once such drowsy moment he permitted the book to fall into his lap and lie in the swath of his long down,  He rubbed his arthritic hands together and with solemn benevolence surveyed the scene.

     Along the path, hurrying for some appointment, came a girl of breathtaking beauty.  Obviously this girl would never be worried about any "Christine" adventure.  As she swung along the path her modern Chinese gown tightly sheathing her body, moved in constant appreciation of the contours beneath.

     The benign attitude of the old gentleman underwent a startling transformation.  No sufferer of myopia he, his vision became as the eagle.  Before my eyes his corpuscles began doing a tango and the ancient veins thrummed to the beat of youthful fire.  the glasses, so essential for scanning the classic lines of poetry fell into his lap unheeded, unwanted.  These classic lines needed no assistance wither to be seen or to be appreciated.

     His head turned as she approached and his lips pursed in a gesture of pleasure.  For a moment I feared that culture or no -- he was ready to sound the wolf call.  But she passed on down the path to her appointment, and he sank back once more upon the bench.

     Book in hand and glasses on nose, he resumed his reading.  But now. there was a more youthful cant to his slender shoulders, a devil-may-care tilt to his eyeglasses.  He hoisted one rheumatic knee over the other and happily, if somewhat reluctantly, went back to his ancient works.

     I, knowing this little adventure was over, continued on my own way.  But I was happy that someone else in Taipei knew that spring had arrived.

Reprinted with permission. 
Joe Brooks wrote a column for the China Post 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

Please leave your Comments below, or e-mail me ~~

 The temperature in Taipei, 30 March 2012, rose into the high 80s F.



Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Life and Adventure - Taipei - Early 1950s - Part 3

1952 - Taipei - Alice Winans continues her story . . .

       The Taiwan Trading Corporation was located at 107 Chung Shan North Road. 
 It was a 2-story building and fairly sizeable.

The Office and Staff personnel of the Taiwan Trading Corporation, circa 1952, including trade representatives, standing on the sidewalk, on Chung Shan North Road, facing south.  The Grand Hotel is to their backs.

       Chung Shan North Road was a quite nice very broad avenue, but the sidewalk was constructed of cement blocks that were broken and loose.

        The firm acted as a Manufactures Representative for various firms, including Pan American Air, General Electric, Parke Davis Pharmaceuticals, Hong Kong Spinners & Weavers Association, connections in Egypt and elsewhere,furnishing textiles (i.e. herringbone twill for the Army) to Taiwan, Korea, and others, Canadian Newsprint firms., Worthington Pump @ Compressor  During that time Mr. Henningsen obtained a franchise for Coca Cola in Hong Kong, and established a large, modern plant known as Hong Kong Bottlers.  This was a huge success.

        I enjoyed my work with the employees immensely and learned very quickly to avoid remarks that would cause anyone to "lose face." 

        One of my first challenges was to find that all files pertaining to Coca Cola which were not to be found under "C", but rather under "L" for Liquor.  

         I tried to ingratiate Mr. Ting, the bookkeeper, by attempting to learn to use the abacus, but I lost face on that one!

Alice in her Taiwan Trading Corporation Office.  October 1952 calendar can been seen.

           After the first month or so, I moved to a desk on the second floor where we could experience the building's creaking sound, and motion of the swinging lights above whenever a fairly frequent earthquake occurred.  

           A shy young girl, Mai, (in the photo above) was our go-fer.  She kept the glasses on our desks filled with tea.  This was done with loose tea in the bottom of the glass, which she kept filled with boiling water.

           An occasional runny nose caused her to sniff a great deal.  After I had known her for some time, I suggested she might like to use a handkerchief.  She smiled sweetly and firmly protested any such idea because that would be "unclean".  I learned to accept her sniffing.

 A street vendor outside the Taiwan Trading Corporation Office on Chung Shan North Road.
The street corner can be seen above, a lady in a purple dress, green car to her back.

This recent photo taken at the same location.

Same location circa 1952.

I was thinking, would you have taken a MAAG assignment in Taipei City in 1952?

I would have, yes send me.

         Sometime following my arrival in Taipei, I met several of the MAAG officers and along with the British couple with whom I shared a house - and several of their friends, we became a close group and shared many great experiences.   

More memories from Alice, with her beautiful 60 year old photographs -- soon.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hunting in the Mountains of Northern Taiwan - 1964

Chuck Adkins, assigned to the 2165th Comm Squadron at  Taipei Air Station with duty assignment at the Radar Dome in Shihmen, the northern most point in Taiwan.

We ran a piece on the Shihmen duty assignment, few folks there, beautiful beaches. 

HERE is the link.

Sometime in the late summer, early fall of 1964, a few military men from Shihmen, the Police Chief and a policeman from the village of Laomei, met up at the Laomei Police station, and headed out on a trek into the mountains south of Laomei, hunting wild boar.

Their weapons, .12 gauge shotguns.   If you notice the weapons in the photos, each has a identifying number on the stock.  The weapons were checked out from Special Services either at Taipei Air Station or downtown at the HSA compound. Each weapon included a number of shells also furnished by Special Services.

At the Police Station, preparing to leave on the hunt. Left to Right in the photo - The Police Deputy,Chief of Police for Laomei, Chuck Adkins, Sonny Perreira, Eddy Booth. 

The farmers around the area experienced damage from the wild boar feeding through their fields.  They welcomed us, hoping we might take a pig or two from the area.

We were off on our hunt....

Lots of space for the hogs to hide up in these hills.  To get close to a hog, you must be down wind or the hogs will smell you and move out of the area. Where are they?

The hunt took us through some beautiful areas, here a rushing stream bursts through the boulders. We walked upward on a path along the side of this stream.

A farm house can be seen just up in those trees above.

But, where are the hogs hiding?

We stopped for a rest and a smoke break at a farmers home in the hills. Left to right - Captain Whatley, a Radar Officer in the Shihmen Dome, Chuck Adkins,  Sonny Perreira The two police officers can also be seen walking around.

The farmer's home.

Sonny Perreira from Hawaii.

We moved on, the sun had come out.

Unfortunately the day brought no boar.  We decided to fire off the shells. When we found a hill we began to fire away.  Probably half of all the shells we had were duds.

So much for killing a hog...

Our day trip to the mountains in the north of Taiwan turned out as an adventure.

Later in Chuck's stay at Shihmen, he and some of the guys went duck hunting.

They would send someone up the stream.  There were ponds all along the stream.  When you reached close to the top of the stream, up the hill, you'd make noise, the ducks would fly down to the next pond, waiting at the next pond, our hunters.

Anyone for roast wild duck?

Our group, military men from Shihmen.
This photo taken just outside the Shihmen Hostel.

On the top of the hill, is that a AAA gun?

Have you got some stuff in you files that we could post?

Write to us, can we have your story for our Blog ?

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tainan AB a B-26 Moves Toward Air Asia Facility

Jim Nelson contributed numerous photographs to this blog.  

Jim ran across another photo from his days at Tainan in 1958.

It looks like a B-26 to me.  Inside Air Asia you can see a C-47 and I cannot make out what sits farther down the tarmac.

Please take a look at Jim's many photos on our Web site, HERE.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Life and Adventure - Taipei - Early 1950s - Part 2

Alice's CAT Airline flight from Tokyo arrived in Taipei on Sunday, 24 February 1952. 
Alice continues her thoughts as she begins a new and exciting time in her life, Taipei:

        "I see from my notes that I arrived Sunday 24 February 1952 at 6:15 a.m. 

           I was picked up at the airport and driven to my new home.

         I shared a rather large residence in the western style home of Harry and Pat Reynolds.  The Reynolds were British; Harry was an Engineer employed by Taiwan Trading Corporation.  I had a large upstairs bedroom and sitting room with bath.

        That same day I was taken by Pat and Harry to lunch at the home of an Australian friend.  After lunch we drove up the long winding road to Grass Mountain.  

         There were a number of military cottages in the area and I was told that the "Gimo" (Chiang Kai-shek) had his home on the Mountain. 

        As we approached our destination I noticed a stream of gray water tumbling down the sides of the road.  The strong smell of sulphur was unmistakable.  Up above were the "sulphur pits" with steam rising from the smelly water.

        Many of the homes up there have a separate room with a stone tub into which the hot sulphur water pours. Guests are often asked if they'd like a sulphur bath and shower before drinks and dining.  I found it a very refreshing experience.

       That was a busy first day.  The ensuing days, apart from work in the office, were filled with meeting new, interesting people of all backgrounds, dinners, evenings and dancing, often at the "Friends of China Club", affectionately referred to as the Frenzied China Club. We'd bring our own bottle and pay a corkage fee.
It seemed to me that at the slightest suggestion, there would be a dinner given for some reason.

 Friends of China Club in Taipei - photo courtesy Bruce Rayle Family 

        The floors were covered with tatami,  The odor of camphor was pervasive, as there were small blocks of camphor in the closets and dresser drawers.  An electric light was kept burning in the clothes closet, and there was a mosquito netting over the bed.   

         All this was to discourage unwanted insects, cockroaches, huge spiders, etc.  I learned to appreciate the little geckos that one saw frequently crawling on the wall, another deterrent.

       There were three household servants -- Wong, the Number One Boy (excellent cook, and person-in-charge), the Amah, who took care of the laundry, and a young man known simply as “Boy”. 

       I think the latter might have been a frustrated artist; for example, when I had left any jewelry on the dresser, I would come in to find a necklace arranged in a heart shape, and other items appropriately placed in a decorative manner.  I was told the Asians have sparse facial hair, so Boy was extremely proud of 2 or 3 very long hairs that grew almost to his waist from a mole near his chin.

       Our home address was 30 Ai Kuo West Road, a few blocks south of the Ministry of National Defense (1952), today, the Presidential Office Building..  

       The Liberty House Chinese Military Hostel was directly across the road from our home.  Many American Military Officers resided in the Liberty House Hostel.   

       Almost every morning at about 6 a.m. a line of soldiers would march to drum beats, along the road in front of the Liberty House,   A bit disquieting at that time of morning, but it served to compete with the other sounds of the day.

The "Liberty House" Hostel, just across the street from Alice's home
Photo courtesy Alice Winans



       In the mix of noise outside my window, were "hawkers" of all descriptions and sounds (many crippled) tapping along the street with a bamboo stick, ringing a bell or calling out a particular chant that advertised their wares.

      Then there was the elderly blind man, who could be hired as a masseur.  He was led along by a young man.  The work he advertised was considered appropriate because of his sightlessness.  I assume he nonetheless had a fine sense of touch. I was fascinated by the concert of sounds and activity early in the morning.

       One annoying sound in the morning was produced by pigeons right under my bedroom window. I learned that they were kept there by Wong.  I finally complained about it to Wong, whereupon the 'cooing' ceased completely for a period of time,  Blessed relief!..... but then gradually, bit by bit, the pigeons were slowly returned until I went through the whole procedure again.

Alice standing outside her home at 30 Ai Kuo West Road in Taipei.

       Breakfast was usually preceded with delicious pineapple, or even more delicious, large pomelos, called oranges by Wong.  Soon, Chang,  our young driver would arrive in an ancient Ford to drive Harry and me to the office.  Chang's driving was somewhat erratic and Harry would call to him something that sounded like, "dong-i-dong" and Chang would slow down a bit.  The company had a rebuilt bus to pickup employees and deliver them to the office.

       Traffic included a variety of vehicles.  Apart from the autos, there were pedicabs of questionable age and condition, coolies pushing and pulling large loads of long "Hanoki" logs, wagons piled high with straw, thousands of bicycles, etc.

       In the busier part of town, someone would suddenly saunter across in front of the car seemingly oblivious to the approaching auto.  We would lean on the horn, beat the outside of the door, yell at them to no avail.  We would have to almost come to a stop while they were succeeding in cutting off the devils following them. Interesting custom!

       There were some stop lights in the city, with police perched atop the high platform waving arms and blowing whistles with each change of the light. 

       At off-times I'd drive the old Ford.  When stopped, one had to keep their foot on the brake or it rolled.  One day, several of us were going somewhere.  The town traffic was heavy, and we had to stop at one of the cross streets.  A cop was up high on a platform under the traffic light, and after I'd stopped, I momentarily took my foot off the brake.  The cop threw up his hands, clambered down the ladder steps and came over to me, screaming something in Taiwanese.  When he saw me, however, a Caucasian, he stopped, stared and quickly climbed up the steps again and went back to work.  Was afraid I'd land in the local jail.

       Chang would take us home for our lunch break which was, I think, 2 hours.  Wong would prepare delicious "Chinese chow" at least once a week.  We often entertained a guest or two on those occasions.  Following our return from the office in the afternoon, we relaxed in the living room with tea (remember, I shared a British household!) and following dinner, it was  drinks and conversation, or quite often, preparation for an evening out.

Chang our Driver standing beside Taiwan Trading Corporation Ford.

       On transferring from Northwest Air Lines to CAT for my flight to Taipei from Tokyo, my large steamer trunk went to Hong Kong instead and took several weeks to finally reach me.  I'd been in Hawaii enroute, so wasn't entirely prepared for February weather.  In the meantime, Harry Reynolds loaned me one of his warm robes.  This was a big help; however, we were amused to note that each day when they made up the rooms, the robe would disappear back in the Reynolds bedroom, and each evening Harry would return the robe to me.  To question the situation would cause the servants to lose face and we decided to play the game and say nothing."

Continued tomorrow....


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Cops of Tainan Air Base ~ Mel Cohen 1966 – 1968

Mel Cohen sent these photos and a short narrative of his assignment at Tainan.

I am sure many of you can relate to Mel and his squadron members, as they conducted the duties of policing the base, 24/7, not the best job in the Air Force, but something that had it's rewards and interesting sights that most of us were not privileged to see or experience.

Like most people who are not in law enforcement, most of us shrug the Cops off as being a pain in our lives, but as we age. we take another look at these guys and realize that they protected us, our aircraft, our lives and were only doing the job they were assigned to do!

Mel arrived at Tainan with one stripe on his sleeve, and like many others before him, followed directions from his superiors and soon learned the trade of being an Air Force Cop.

Here are Mel's thoughts about his Tainan experience. 

The time period was October 1966 to January 1968..

I was assigned to the 6214th Air Police Squadron at Tainan Air Base.  We were assigned Base Security.  

We performed Base Law Enforcement duties and Security for the off-site munitions bunkers and the Alert Pad. The “Pad” was where Detachment 1 of the 405th Fighter Wing out of Clark AB parked and maintained their aircraft.

We stood alert at the “Pad” where, “Locked & Loaded” F-100 Super Saber  aircraft were on “Alert” for immediate launch.  Later, F-4 Phantoms replaced the F-100s.

Our Air Police Squadron also patrolled the Main Flight Line, where US Air Force, EC-121 Early Warning Aircraft were parked, working under Operation “College Eye”  flying in support missions over the Vietnam area.  We also kept an eye on those funny little, Air America C-7A Caribou aircraft.

The Flight Line at Tainan AB also included Nationalist Chinese Air Force F-86 Sabers, C-46 and C-119 Flying Box Car aircraft.

During my last 5 months at Tainan AB, I worked in the Photo ID Building issuing ID’s to Dependents and Local Workers.

Most of these photos are of 6214th Air Police Squadron personnel all taken during my assignment.

Many photo comments were authored by Blog administrator. 

The US Air Force, Air Police Shield, with crossed .38 caliber revolvers. 
 Located at the front entrance area of the Air Police Office on Tainan Air Base.

Meet "Joe" Cobra

Strack and Hard-Core!  Look at those freshly creased and tailored uniforms.

White Hat duty today. 
Loading .38 caliber pistol at the Safety Clearing Drum
Who's that in the Arm's Room area?

 Before we pulled out for Guard Mount duty, it was  "Snack Time."   
Mel on the left with a coke and candy bar.

Lemke and Mel on the Convoy Team. 
Truck is a 1963 Dodge Power Wagon.

Left to right -  Casey, Thornton, Unknown and LeRoux.

Left to right - Casey, Thornton, Unknown and LeRoux.

Left to right - Orlenson, Casey, Thornton, Mel and Lemke.

End of Guard Mount - Mel extreme right next to B&W Buick.

“A” Flight Strike Team heading out in our 1963 Dodge Power Wagon

Lemke and Mel in front of The Inspector General Office Building and OSI office.

Firing Range – sharpen those skills with the .38 caliber pistol.
We also practiced firing Grenades from launchers on our M-16s.

Everyone checked out the old Japanese pill boxes one time or another. Mel and Heinke.

 The On-Base Antiaircraft Gun emplacements

Someone got a new Bike..

Airman Bernie Keckler helping out downtown.

The Platters, at the NCO Club, December 1966

Mel, outside the barracks.

Mel, outside Pass and Registration office, his last assignment at Tainan.

The new 1967 Chevrolet just arrived for the Tainan Security Police.
Note the beautiful 1966 Impala, far right, a POV.

A Chinese Pagoda in Tainan City.

A University in Tainan City.

An Elementary school in Tainan City.

Chung Cheng Road – the Main Drag in Tainan.  

Mitgue and Eping at Tainan Beach.

Eping at Tainan Beach.

Eping worked on-base as a civilian at the Base Dining Hall. 

Airman Tillman A/K/A “Tilly” relaxing on the shoulder of a local statue.

And, in closing, the obligatory photograph all Air Policemen are required to have in the file.

Thanks for visiting. I hope Mel Cohen's photographs brought to mind some wonderful memories for you.

Those were the days of wine and roses for most of us, youngsters just out of Moms reigns, and enjoying every minute of our time, at Tainan Air Base.

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