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

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Puffy White Clouds on a Warm Spring Day...

Aerial photo by Gordon Stewart Wight courtesy of his daughter, Rena Wight Edelen. 

Above ~ MAAG Officer's Club and pool ~ Chung Shan North Road,  Taipei -1956

Photo just above, December 2006 - 50+ Years have passed!   Google Earth Photo.  
Side street on left of both photos including odd looking cement diagram, (headless upside down Burning Man) were removed to expand the grounds of the Taipei Floral Exposition. 
The land west of Chung Shan North Road, seen on both photos above, was converted and became part of the Taipei Floral Exposition, which opened in Spring 2011. 
Today, flowers, grass and trees, not a hint of the club and pool.

Let's reverse the ravages of time and look back at the swimming pools as they were the 1950s..  

No matter where you resided on the island, this photo, captured around the O'Club pool area, will help coax back memories of refreshing afternoons lounging around one of many swimming pools in Taiwan.

Looking south, 1957 MAAG  Oficer's Club Taipei pool courtesy of Tom Jones.

Jump on in! 

Billowy white clouds above, a gentle warm breeze touching the skin, relaxing on a comfortable chair in the shade of an umbrella, a club sandwich and beverage on the table. Relax...... 

A time of tranquility for the soul. 

  Across the street, Hostel #2, with Taiwan flags flapping in the wind. 
Many of us had a room in that building one time or another during our Taipei assignment.  

 Tom Jones, an Army Soldier, assigned to MAAG Taiwan Provisional Signal Detachment, had a part-time lifeguard job here at the O'Club.

He gave up the position when he moved to a new assignment on Matsu Island. 

Perhaps you missed our earlier story about Tom's Matsu assignment, here's a link to the story.

Let's drive down the street to Club 63 in the old MAAG Compound, (HSA West Compound)

Courtesy Scott Ellinger via Shulinkou Website

Photo courtesy Don Irwin circa 1957.

This was the 2d Club 63 in Taipei.  This facility closed in 1957 with the opening of a new Club 63 building along the Keelung River.

If you have any information on either of these early Club 63 facilities, please leave a Comment below.  Thank you.

Now, we'll take a left on Chung Shan North Road and head down to the new Club 63 facility on the Keelung River, below the Grand Hotel.

Courtesy Scott Ellinger via Shulinkou Website
Newly opened, the last Club 63. Circa 1957.

Courtesy Tom Jones 1957-58.
A big draw to the Officer's Club,  the swimming pool.   A little pushing and shoving between the sexes here, typical teenage games.

Club 63 pool courtesy Don Irwin 1957.
It appears the cement building just in back of the life-guard chair, is a snack shop.  The small wooden window next to a small white sign,  could that be the snack shop menu?

Club 63 Pool, the Keelung River can be seen on the left. Courtesy Don Irwin 1957.

The photo of the lifeguard in the previous picture, was taken from the left side of the pool.

Notice the same tables and chairs in both photos..

Looking from opposite end of the pool, Keelung River just to the right.  
Courtesy Don Irwin 1957.
This and other photos were taken more than 50 years ago. Some of the colors have faded through the years.

Look on the roof, I believe that's a neon sign.  Looks like 4 letters going downward and a larger space under the letters.  It was probably a bold sign reading:  CLUB  63, or  MAAG NCO OPEN MESS

Back in the 1950s and 60s, there were many MAAG folks scattered all over Taiwan, especially US Army folks, who worked at Taiwan Army outposts  When they traveled to Taipei for meetings, etc., they would head for the club to unwind, have a wonderful meal and relax.  Back in those days, there was not much street lighting and most new comers to Taipei would not know their way around. Signage would help them find the clubs.  I suspect the petti-cab and taxi drivers knew where the US folks were headed before they sat down. 

Double click on the Dragon Hotel above and check it out.....

Another interesting note about eating.  The Officer's Club was open to all military personnel for lunch. Everyone could have lunch at the club.  No need to take a petti-cab or taxi to have lunch. For many, it was only a short walk to the Officer's Club on Chung Shan North Road.

In today's military, opening the doors to all ranks would probably not be a big thing.  Back in the day, one of our MAAG leaders had the intelligence to approve such a change in historic attitudes, opening the club doors to all ranks for lunch.  

Club 63 pool, 1957-58 courtesy Tom Jones.
Quite a gallery lined up for their turn on the diving board.  
Are they possibly competing in a "diving contest?"

Club 63 pool, 1957-58 courtesy Tom Jones.
This had to be a weekend or holiday.  

Lots of single men around the pool.

Club 63 pool, 1957-58 courtesy Tom Jones
Let's move forward from the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s. 

 Here is a series of photos of Club 63, taken from the Grand Hotel.

Club 63 and Keelung River looking NE courtesy Les Duffin 1965-66.
Club 63 has undergone some remodeling since it first opened.  From the original 1 story, we now have 2 stories, and additional building toward the left side of this photo.

Notice the cars parked across the street along the river. Back in the day, you could park just about anywhere.

I don't see the Mongolian BBQ which was somewhere close to the club, along the river.  Maybe it's hidden in the trees to the left of the parked automobiles? 

Club 63 and Keelung River looking S-SE courtesy Les Duffin 1965-66.
You can see cars parked along the river.  This photo fits next to the photo just above.  
The swimming pool is just off to the left of this photo. 

Club 63 and Keelung River looking S-SW courtesy Les Duffin 1965-66.
This photo and the 2 photos above, taken same day, provide a wide view of the area.

The road on the right would take you to the Keelung River bridge on Chung Shan North Road, crossing the river, then down hill to the Officer's Club on the right, Hostel #5 on the left and the HSA compounds.

Club 63 pool along the Keelung River courtesy of Les Duffin 1970 via Shulinkou AS Website.

The greatest change in this photo and the photos taken 4 or 5 years earlier, just above, is the removal of the small buildings just (west) to the right end of the swimming pool.  The grass area where the old buildings once stood is today, a park. 

As the story goes, Club 63 shut it's doors and faded into the past on 28 June 1973.

Only, to be re-opened a few days later by the Navy Exchange (NEX) with a new name ~         

"China Seas Enlisted Men's Club," 
which became commonly know as, The China Seas Club.

Courtesy Terry Ni circa mid 1970s.

What happened to Club 63?

Who really knows?  I expect, the draw down of US military, and it's effect on club patronage necessitated the closure.

Of course, we must also remember the loss of income from the slot machines that were removed from the military clubs in Taiwan. I've searched for something on their removal in Taiwan, nothing found.

I left Taiwan in July 1968, and the slots were still operating.  

I believe slot machine income alone, was sufficient to pay the club's operating expenses. Dues at $1.00 a month, topped off the income column.  Food sales probably broke even or even ran at a loss at times.  No worry, the gambling income would cover just about everything.

I believe the removal of one arm bandits was most likely the major factor in Club 63s closure.

When the Navy Exchange reopened the club, it basically continued the same operation, 
however, they added one new item.....

$$$$ Slot Machines $$$$

Immediately, the club was back in business, and because the club was operated by the Navy Exchange, anyone who could get inside the NEX, could probably also get into the China Seas Club.
That Navy Exchange card everyone carried, probably opened the door at the China Seas for people without military ID.

R&R Center - Sea Dragon Club in Taipei photo Courtesy John Crum circa 1969.

  Don't forget, the Navy Exchange ran the R&R Center (Sea Dragon Club) in Taipei (facility was at an earlier time, The Fleet Reserve Association) during the Vietnam period and had experience operating large club type facilities. 

I assume,  the China Seas Club was considered a part of the Taiwan NEX family of stores.
The Navy Exchange cut a wide swath across Taiwan, and had the business and gambling income necessary to operate at a profit. 

Remember, the NEX operated all of the exchanges in Taiwan.

NEX stores in Taiwan I'm aware of:

Taipei Main Store
Taipei AS
Shulinkou AS
CCK Main Store and many side shops
Tainan AB
Kaohsiung located at the pier and EM Club in town

Snack bars in:

HSA West Compound
Sungshan Airport
CCK Flight Line

Have I missed some?

The NEX E.M.Club operation (Sea Dragon Club) in Kaohsiung was
 a big money maker when the fleet visited port.
 Read about the Kaohsiung club here, which mentions the slot machine room, and talking about making so much money that all drinks were 10 cents all night when announced.  And, people complained!  Read the story..

I last visited the American Club Taipei in October 2014.  After lunch, I took a number of photos of the club and outside areas.
I hope these photos will give you some idea of what the club looks like today.

Photo courtesy Shulinkou Website
Here's a great overhead view of the old Club 63, now the American Club in Taipei.

Beian Road, which runs beside the club has no parking. 

The days of parking along the street or along the river, are gone.

Sometime in the past, a heavy, 15-20+ foot tall cement wall was constructed between the river bank and Beian Road.  It's hard to see in this overhead photo, but if you look closely, you can make out the cement colored wall (light brown color.) 

Photo courtesy Taipei Signal Army Blog circa 1968-1968
Back in the day, parking everywhere, taxis double parked.

Notice the MAAG Shield and NCO Open Mess sign on the second floor wall area.
Photo October 2014

The club's entrance doors have moved back to this area.  Look inside the wall on the right.  The reflecting glass doors, and red colored steps, now open into an extended lobby area. 

The wall which once displayed the MAAG NCO Open Mess signage can be seen sticking upward between 2 trees down the street in front of the silver/blue colored van. 
Photo courtesy R. Lentz circa 1970.
Photo October 2014.
The blue Buick, in photo above, would have been parked along the curb where the first and second red brick inlay walls are, about 10 yards in front of the man standing at the bus stop. 

Courtesy Roger Lentz circa 1965.

Park anywhere, back in the day. 

Courtesy Roger Lentz circa 1965.

The Grand Hotel on the hill and the Club 63 swimming pool behind the block wall.

October 2014.
The pool is just behind this block wall, which has been covered with cement and freshly painted. 

Let's go inside the club pool area... all photos 2014.

To the left, across the street, the Keelung River.

Walked down to the opposite end of the pool.

A large Jacuzzi is located in the corner of the building just off to the right of the photo above.

I turned around and took this photo looking east toward the main building.

Here's the snack bar, small but nice selection for the pool area.

Another view from the river side of the main building.The snack bar is on the left behind those white lounge chairs.

Looking toward the Grand Hotel in the background.  My back is to the Keelung River side.

Looking west/northwest.  The life guard keeping watch over the empty pool.  The Jacuzzi is in the far corner, kitty-corner across the pool, in line with the life guard.

Looking at the main building.  Upstairs, their are a couple of very large rooms.  Used for Sunday Buffet and special occasions, weddings, etc.

Downstairs, behind the awnings, inside, Sigis restaurant.  We ate there during our Taiwan Trip a few years ago. You can also sit outside under the awnings and have dinner, which is part of Sigis. 

I usually eat in the Terrace Coffee Shop which has a large menu and also a lunch buffet everyday.


Sigis Restaurant (outside dining area) comfortable and away from the noise of the inside tables when it's busy.

The pool just underwent repairs and upgrades.

The ACC pool is the same Club 63 pool seen earlier in our story.
  It's undergone some cosmetic repairs and upgrades, but its the same old pool.  

Jump on in!  Taipei is as wonderful as ever! 

Before we close, I want to present photos taken in and around the ACC Club a few weeks ago, in late October 2014.

I had just finished lunch in the Terrace Coffee Shop.  The north wall of the Terrace dining room is all glass.  You can look out and see the tennis courts.  Up on the hill, part of the older buildings of the Grand Hotel can be seen.

I walked east along the tennis courts and then walked up to the roof above the second floor of the main building.

You can go back to the aerial view of the club and see where I took some of these October 2014 photos.  

NOTE:  In the Aerial view of the ACC Club,  these blue color courts were green.  Since the aerial photo was taken, the courts have been upgraded and painted blue, in fact, the surface may be some type of synthetic materiel.  

As I made my way to toward the stairs to the roof, I came across this sign.

I've arrived at the Tennis Lessons court on the roof.

The two courts seen in a couple photos earlier, with the women playing, are to the left of this photo, down on the ground, on the other side of the blue color fence coverings.

  I opened the gate, seen in the far corner, and walked down the Tennis lesson court toward the Grand Hotel end, the blue covering on the fence is along the right hand side of this photo.

This is the rest area of the Tennis lesson court.  Take a break and cool down.

I stuck my camera through the fence of the Tennis lesson court.

The Terrace Coffee Shop is behind the five windows on the far side tennis court.  I believe there are two or three more windows unseen in this photo.  It's a nice size dining room.

The blue looking awnings in the center, behind the fence, that area is the children's play ground area.  Nice and large, lots of things for the kids to enjoy in the play area.

The Kids Play area.  

The large white colored building ahead does not belong to the ACC.

I didn't get up in the green area of the second floor, left center, I think that area is offices.  

We're looking toward the area where the swimming pool is located, it's just on the other side of the building, straight-on looking toward the overhead freeway seen in the distance.

I walked out to the stairway and stepped out the door onto the roof area.  It was a beautiful day, a nice breeze from the east brought in clean air from Hualien and the east coast.

On the left you can see the parking lot. The old Stag Bar was someplace in this area.  Not exactly sure where.

In the distance, Taipei 101 building.  This photo will give you an idea where it sits.  I would guess, as the crow fly's, it's about 3 miles in the distance.  The Keelung River is on the other side of the trees just ahead.

More of the parking lot and Taipei 101.

I retraced my foot steps back down the stairway and back into the restaurant.

It was a fun day in Taipei.

Hope that you enjoyed the trip.

While preparing this post, it occurred to me, we have left out the story of what happened to the Officer's Club through the years.

Perhaps someone will tell that story. 

I'm sure there will be questions and new information coming forth concerning this post.

We welcome your input and corrections and additions. 

Please, leave your comments below.

We have a number of great posts in the making.

Early 1960s photos from Tainan.

1950 and 1960s photos from the North Shore.

More 1959 photos of Matador Missiles in Tainan area.