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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Chop Chop

More 1956 thoughts from Joe Brooks

Let’s get a chop made today.  I think that everyone should have one to take back to the “old country,” – don’t you?

The history of the chop itself is something of interest -- being in the nature of the ancient royal seals of Western countries -- the kings just couldn't sign their names.

In fact this failing was so widespread in ancient days in China that most of the generals, high court officials and administrators were chosen for their brains and brawn rather than for their education, it following that an educated man is not necessarily and intelligent one.

The system of chops now has become such a part of the official, legal and commercial part of Chinese business that personal signatures, while in some cases being considered legal, nearly always require the additional "notarization" of the individual's chop.

There are literally hundreds of places you can get a chop made in Taipei.  Almost every residential district has one or two stationary or office shops where the seals may be fashioned from an interesting variety of materials, ranging from common wood chops which cost only four or five Taiwan dollars to artistic masterpieces carved from ivory, crystal or precious jade, and ranging up to several hundreds of Taiwan dollars in price.

First you will have one of your Chinese friends devise a Chinese name for you; many people will already have had this done.  Then, having this Chinese name in the usual two to three character form written on a piece of paper, approach one of the shops, preferably with an interpreter to have your chop made. 

Select your material well, for people will judge you by the type of chop you have, almost as closely as they do by whether your collar is clean or not.

Unless you can see many years of life in the Orient ahead, you can use ivory in one the economical grades, or perhaps a piece of good stone. One of the favorite tricks is to buy an old chop from a pawnshop and have the original name cut off and have your name- characters carved into the bare end.  This is sometimes more economical than buying new stock, new ivory in Taipei being quite expensive and good stock being difficult to find.  Beware of so-called "ivory" chops which are artificial ivory.  Real ivory bears the tooth-grain in a well defined diamond-check pattern on the squared ends of the chop-stock.

Now you must choose your type or family of characters.  Many people prefer the square-shaped classical figures, others prefer the more legible modern characters while the more literary individuals select the ancient grass-writing characters which are perhaps the best if the chop is to become a serious memento of your tour in China.

After the chop has been completed, you can obtain a plastic or wooden box which is designed to provide a place for the chop and the red-paste ink used to affix the signature.  Most of these have a jointed slide cover which adds to the attractiveness of the work.

Having received your chop in hand you will immediately begin to experiment with it. Now here are some ideas that you will find the Chinese people have never thought of, and some which they have.

The ink paste is water fast, but must be left to dry well before washing.  Use the chop as your personal laundry-mark.  Clothes will never get lost in a Chinese laundry if you use it for this.

Use the chop to personalize your stationary and envelopes -- you can use it on any and all odds and ends of letter-paper.  Mark your favorite books with the chop on the lead pages where you usually write your name.  It serves as a perfect mark of identification that no-one can dispute.  It works wonders on keeping magazines, pamphlets and newspapers from wandering away also.

Get a plain silk tie and dye your own hand-blocking design with the chop -- you can guarantee that on-one else in the world will have a tie exactly like it.  Ladies, you can do the same thing for bandannas, scarves and gloves.  You'd be surprised what can be done in just a few minutes in preparing your own blocking design.

If you really get the fever, have the chop design enlarged and used to personalize your whiskey, highball, cocktail and beer glasses.  Stateside shops will etch or sandblast the design in minutes for a very small fee.

Of all the souvenirs that you will bring back to your home, a chop will be one of the most authentic, personal and highly treasured that you will have.  For the few dollars it will cost, you will extract many times the value in pleasure of ownership.

Let me know how you like your chop.


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 us ~~

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

The "Reason" for the season, The birth of Jesus Christ.

Today, December 25th ~ Christmas 

This Christmas card arrived in yesterday's mail.

The water color rendering above is by Rick Slater .

Rick is the Administrator of the Tainan AB Face book page.

Great work Rick!

This year I don't have a large bundle of new photographs to present.

I want to add a few interesting photos, received from different  sources, which fit into previous holiday posts.

 I'll link to some of the previous Christmas posts at the end of today's post.

Forward page courtesy USTDC Blog

Here's the forward page taken from a book of sketches by Paul Kuo.

Joe Brooks, held various positions inside the Armed Forces Network Taiwan (AFNT) over the years.

We'll assume Paul Kuo sketched the rendering of Joe, above.

To ease the reading of Joe's commentary, we retyped it below:

     "For the casual observer,  this book may at first prove quite a surprise.  However, as the pictures and captions reveal their individual messages of humor and occasional bewilderment, there is brought to the surface a vast appreciation of the perceptive awareness of the artist to the impact of the Christmas Season on what is is basically a non Christian country, and to some of its residents as well."
     "Those who have shared these experiences will enjoy the memories brought to mind, while those who might be facing their first holiday season in Taiwan will do well to accept the messages and take them to heart.  Readers who have never visited in this country may be unable to fully appreciate the depth of meaning in portrayed evens from Club 63 in Taipei to SAMOC (South Area MAAG Officer's Club) in Kaohsiung.  But in every case, the pen of Paul Kuo has captured enough emotional substance to carry a part of the story in a medium of their own best understanding."

     "Thus, the resident Chinese can share with the housemaid who see her employer preparing big "Pai Pai" and calling it Christmas.  Others will feel the bewilderment of the lady of the house who receives a live turkey as a Christmas present from HER household help.  Everywhere will be felt great need of the foreigner to create an emotional and spiritual atmosphere consistent to that enjoyed in his own homeland, and the willingness of the friendly Chinese people to enter into the spirit of the game.  If they fail to fully appreciate the finer aspects of why a Christmas tree is so necessary for their foreign friends to enjoy their Yuletide Holiday, they are delighted to see the great pleasure the evergreen branches being to the household at large." 

     "As a souvenir, a reminder of a vast and stirring experience, or as a gift for friends who wonder about life in these climes - - the book will prove a treasured and welcome book of any library. - -  Joe Brooks, Taipei, Taiwan.  1961"

We've featured a number of Joe Brook's articles during the past few years.  You can find them by searching for "Joe Brooks" in our search box on the right side of this blog.

Photo courtesy James W. Brown Jr. circa mid-1960s  from the Internet

One of the most important items at Christmas, your Christmas tree.

Here, the HSA East Compound, close to the NEX, where trees were UN-crated and displayed, allowing customer's to select just the right one for their home, hostel, outpost room, barracks or office.  These trees were carefully moved to bases and outposts throughout the island(s). Imagine walking into your hostel on the top of a mountain, or deep downtown Taichung or any place else, and immediately smelling the pine scent aroma from the newly decorated tree.

The sweet aroma alone would jolt you into a smile and a flood of memories from your past...

And don't forget, these trees made their way into the local economy via NEX Card holders not necessarily associated with the US military.

Joe Brooks mentioned in his commentary above, "SAMOC (South Area MAAG Officer's Club) in Kaohsiung."  

I have been looking for an old photo of the MAAG O'Club in Kaohsiung.  We've not had one come in.  Recently, I was talking with a Kaohsiung STRATCOM Army man.  We spoke of many things including the clubs. A short time later, I received this photo of a sign in the Kaohsiung/Tsoying area.  At the bottom of the sign, "Officer's Club"

Photo courtesy of Marvin, circa late 1960s.

Look at the top of this sign, just under the roof, "HSA-5 SPECIAL SERVICES"  Guess that indicates,  Det 5, HSA Special Services.

I would guess, the area off to the right was the recreation center, bowling alley, swimming pool, Youth Center, Library, Tennis courts all  run by HSA Special Services, and the O'Club was run by MAAG Taiwan was straight ahead on the far end of the power pole with transformer.

Google Earth in Tsoying with ID pins locating some US facilities of the 1960s.

We've finally found the MAAG Officer's Club in Tsoying.  It can be seen on the map above.  Also found, the HSA Special Services area with a pool, bowling alley, tennis courts, Teen Center and other offices.

If you look toward the bottom of the Google Earth photo, you can see the outline of where the old FASD Hostel once sat.

Photo courtesy Marvin circa late 1960s

Photo of the old FASD Tsoying Hostel 
Outline of old hostel can be seen in preceding photo.

Photo courtesy of John Hornbeck circa 1968-68

We're heading north from Tsoying, a short ride away, Tainan.
Above, the Magambo (MAAG NCO Open Mess) taken from street view.

I'm not sure where I got this photo.  It's the Magambo Club when it first opened in 1960

Notice that motor scooter on the right side of the photo.

The Tainan Air Base Airmen's Open Mess, late 1950s

Proof positive, check out the motor scooter along the sidewalk.
One of the last photos of this club before they moved to the new facility.

Courtesy Tom Roberts, 1956-1958

The new Tainan Officer's Open Mess a couple miles outside the gate, in the same area with the MAAG NCO Open Mess (Magambo Club)

Tainan CAT Club courtesy Tom Roberts, 1956-1958

The CAT Club was a short distance down the road from the Tainan O'Club and NCO Club.

Why was the CAT Club constructed?  

I found a interesting document that might help explain why things went as they did for CAT in Tainan.

We're back in the car, driving up to Taichung.

MAAG NCO Club - Club 36 - circa 1965, courtesy Taiwan Signal Army Blog

A very small club, constructed for MAAG personnel and support personnel assigned in the area.

When the buildup of Kung Kuan AB, (later CCK) started, the place quickly filled up, many were turned away because of seating limits; there just wasn't any room inside.

I remember going down in January 1965, first trip to Kung Kuan AB.  We ended up at Club 36 and it was very comfortable.

A few weeks later, it was overrun.  The kitchen could not keep up. 
Food from the club was what everyone wanted.  Many people didn't drink, or maybe had a beer and wanted some food to go with it, it was a long wait for food service.

I don't recall how the problem was overcome.  The building was expanded, and when the Kung Kuan/CCK clubs opened, Club 36 slowly went back to a more controllable atmosphere.

We're back on Highway 1, moving toward Hsinchu.

Hsinchu had a military housing area, Bank of Taiwan Housing.

Where MAAG personnel resided, the Navy followed with services such as exchange, move house, clubs. I am not sure how the Commissary worked.

I believe some one sent this to us more than 5 years ago. Circa 1960.

This photo was named, the Hsinchu Shopping Complex, or the Exchange and Community Center. I believe there was a small Exchange, a snack bar, movie theater and probably a gasoline facility.  Note the gray color Navy vehicle, in front of the NEX. 
Map courtesy of Bruce Rayle, circa 1957 or earlier.

This shopping area was located a short distance from Hsinchu Main Station, and a block or so from the Catholic Cathedral of Hsinchu, which has the formal name, Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral. 

This small shopping area was situated inside the green circle on the upper left side of this photo.

Photo courtesy Bruce Rayle 1968

The altar at the Hsinchu Cathedral, prepared for its very first Christmas Midnight Mass, on December 24, 1958.

The MAAG folks in Hsinchu also had other facilities.

Map courtesy Bruce Rayle circa 1967 or earlier

A short distance (1.2 miles) directly west  from the MAAG Housing Compound (yellow square on right side of map) was the Officer’s Club, Hostel and Infirmary, all located in the Magenta circle above.  The MAAG Motor Pool was in the Green circled area just to the left of the Officer’s club. 

Hsinchu Map courtesy of Bruce Rayle

Last summer two retired USAF men and myself traveled to Hsinchu to attend an Open House and the large Army Tank Base in central Taiwan.

After a long day of walking around the enormous display areas, we headed back to Hsinchu on a mission to find the old Hsinchi NCO Club, which was really the Hsinchu Branch of Club 63 out of Taipei.

During the early years of Hsinchu, the NCO may have been operating on their own.

We have the map seen just above.  I believe the NCO Club was always located at the same location, don't believe it ever moved.

Looking at the map above, the NCO Club was inside the black circle in about the center of the map.  Just above the circle is an arrow and the letter Q.  

Just about everyone on a journey up or down the island would stop by the NCO Club when they arrived in Hsinchu.  Restroom facilities, cold air conditioning, and good food....

Photo courtesy John Hornbeck, circa 1967-1969
This is the only photo that has ever surfaced of "Club 63 Hsinchu Branch.

We found the street, and made two runs around the area to be sure we had the correct location indicated on the map above.

The building, just past the club, with the exposed red brick, was recently torn down.

I have a photo of the building which sits on this corner of the alley.  It appears to be the correct location, but the man working inside knew nothing of an American club.

Bottom line, any hint of the old club is gone.

 We're moving north toward Taipei and we end our journey at the Officer's Club Annex this Christmas.

Christmas season circa 1968


The entrance to the MAAG Officer's Club Annex, a doorman standing by to assist the ladies and children out of their car.

Inside the Christmas decorations are shining brightly.

Photos courtesy Rory O'Neil Christmas 1967
The band - Florence Moog

Rory O'Neil wrote, " The day was called or billed as the Holly Frolic.
The band members are playing in more formal attire."

Band members are (l-r) Terry O'Neil on vocals, Rick Ashabran on keyboards, Perry Smith on bass, Mike Gibson on guitar, Keith Wake on drums, and Jim Hollingsworth on guitar.

Rory continued, "I believe the band broke up in '68 likely because members were seniors in high school." 

Terry O'Neil who was the vocalist is Rory O'Neil's brother. 

We've covered a large portion of the island today.  

I hope you found something new in the photos we displayed today.

If you are interested in looking back at a couple of previous Christmas posts, here they are.

Our 2012 Christmas Post, click  HERE

Our 2011 Christmas Post, click  HERE 

More old photographs are being prepared, see you soon.

Merry Christmas, to you..

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Looking for Birth Father

If you're a reader of this blog,  you probably know we try to find "missing fathers" of children who were born in Taiwan, of Taiwan mothers and US fathers. 

We were recently successful in locating the father of Tony Wang.  Tony was at Taoyuan International airport to meet his father as he arrived from the United States.  What a happy time for both men.

During the last few days, Rick Slater, (Rick runs the, closed Tainan AB Taiwan Face Book page) was successful in locating information on another missing father.  

Rick found the brother of the missing father, with the help of a number of people around the country.  

We are awaiting word from the brother who will present the information about his brother's child during the Christmas holiday family time. The missing father passed nearly 30 years ago.

We will keep you posted on this story as more information is received.  We are anxious to see how this unfolds with the father's  family.  The woman is on pins and needles awaiting word.  You can imagine her feeling of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, after fifty years of wondering.  


        We have again been contacted, regarding a "missing father."

We believe this is the "missing father" and Jennifer's mother, circa 1963-1964. Please give us your "guess" of the name embroidered on the black shirt. 
A name could help us find him.
  "Hi, my name is Jennifer and I was wondering if there is a way for me to find any military personnel that was in Taipei, Taiwan during 1964?"

  " I was born in December of 1964 the result of my Taiwanese mother meeting a military servicemen, was raised by my grandma (mom's mom) till I was 11, adopted by a wonderful family in the U.S."

  "I never know whom my father was or if he is still alive but always wonder about him, I just recently found my Taiwanese family and went back to Taiwan for a long awaited reunion after 38 years. I'm just trying to find out who my father is and meet him and his family if he have any and if he would like to meet me." 

People have different feelings about uniting children and missing fathers.  I would only ask, put yourself in Jennifer's shoes and think about how you would feel.  I believe this deep need is something instinctive in all of us.  Some give-up and let it go, but they probably carry the burden of not knowing for the rest of their lives.  

I'm sure most of us would attempt to locate our father if we were in a similar situation. 

That's how we feel and if we can help, we will. We are a go-between and would never open the door to the child unless the father granted us permission to do so. 

Rick spoke to Jennifer, trying to glean any information she may have overlooked. We believe he was an Air Force man with 2 stripes on his uniform.  Rick thinks he was Air Force based upon his conversation of what she remembers of a uniform seen in the family closet early in her life. 

We are starting out with this photograph of Jennifer's mother and the man who we believe is most probably, her natural father.

Any information you can help with, would be of great help and appreciated.  We will not identify you in any way.   

Please Email us at Taipei Air Station.

Thank you......

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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Thank you....