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

Friday, November 18, 2016

Early Days in Taipei ~ 1957-1960

Tom Morgan was a young boy during his family's assignment in Taipei.

 His parents took hundreds of photos in and around Taipei during their tour. Tom recently began sorting through them, and selected some to share with us.

Next year, will be the 60th Anniversary of the Morgan Family's arrival in Taipei.

Just about every photograph can be enlarged by clicking or double clicking inside the photo
1957 - Taipei - nice "two story" single family home, Monkey bars to the left.    

Tom's remembrances begin...  

"We lived in a private residence.

The monkey bars (in above photo) were made out of bamboo, I think they were lashed together with wire.

I believe my father had some local men build it.  It lasted the 3 years we were there, and it got lots of use.

I also remember peddlers with carts who would come around selling stuff.  Plastic canteens and nifty round, Chinese playing cards, about the size of Ritz crackers were big favorites of myself and my brothers. The cards had scalloped edges and had pictures printed on them, they were fun to fling around like little Frisbees.  There was also a peddler who sold sugar cane, which was great fun to chew on.

We had an honest to god bomb shelter in the back yard.  It was a cylinder, about 5 or 6 feet in diameter and about 10 feet long.  There was a gap at each end of about 3 feet, and then a concrete wall perpendicular to the tube.  The tube was covered with dirt and had grass growing on top.  I am sure it was effective, but we never used it for anything except to play in.  It was a great place to find snails, and the snails in there were huge. 

We had cement ground gutters surrounding our house.  These ground gutters were covered with bamboo slats, slit in half, and spaced about a quarter inch apart, allowing rain and ground standing water to flow into the gutters. Our roof gutters carried water directly into the drain. Prying up the bamboo slats around the house gutters revealed the biggest earthworms I have ever seen.  They were probably as big as my thumb and 1.5 to 2 feet long.

We had a university professor and his wife living behind us.  On one side, there were 10 U.S. Marines in a big house and the Taipei Chief of Police lived on the other side."

Just where was Tom's home?

The Morgan home was located on Jinan Road, yellow pin left side on map above. 

You may want to click on this photo to enlarge it for better viewing.

On the right hand side of the photo, yellow pin, the ROC Air Force HQ compound in the 1950s.  

The Air Force Headquarters moved to new facilities a few years ago.

This photo taken from the Morgan's Buick, looking west on Jinan Road, Section 3, just outside the Morgan home.

Some interesting things in this photo (click on the photo to enlarge for better viewing)

The city "bus stop" sign just in front on right.

My good friend Chris translated the sign and discussed other things in this photo..

Chris wrote:  The Chinese characters read:  "Jinan Road Three Section"

Just on the extreme left side of this photo you can see a pedicab and looking further up the street other interesting things.

Chris writes about the pedicab - Along the road side (left) is a parked pedicab.  It looks like the pedicab is in good shape, the tarp cover looks new, I'm guessing it's not a street pedicab for anybody to hire, instead, I believe this pedicab was a government asset that was assigned to service a specific person, maybe a government official or a military general.

The cement boxes that sit next to the fence along the street are small garbage dumpsters.

Chris continued, I think the buildings along both sides of Jinan Road in the photo were built in Japanese colonial times and were taken over by the Chinese Nationalist Government in August 1945 when Japan surrendered.

After the exodus retreat from Mainland China, these Japanese homes were given to high-ranking government officials and military generals.  Of course, here, in this photo, I think the buildings were used as residences for military personnel of MAAG.

Looking farther down the road, you can see a bicycle peddler selling ice cream, with a white box and overhead canopy.  When I was in my childhood, these kinds of bicycle ice cream peddlers were quite common.

Today, this street is much wider and filled with businesses, although there are a few old homes, behind high block walls, that probably date back to the "old days."

Here's young Tom surveying his yard from the Bamboo Jungle Jim.  

It seems like young boys are driven by instinct to climb whatever is in the yard.

Tom and his German Shepherd, "Bismark" under the bamboo swing-set.

Tom continued,  "We had a problem one night when someone tried to get inside our yard.  

All we heard was Bismark barking, followed by a painful scream

The following morning we found some torn cloth and some blood on the wall-top glass shards and assumed Bismark had waited until the miscreant dropped to the ground and then gave him a good nip."

The Morgan's 1954 Buick Special, oops! Across the street a new 1957 Chevy.

Today, the drains still follow the streets, but, they are all covered with heavy (slotted for drainage) cement pieces.

There's a military jeep parked behind the Buick.  Those jeeps all had ROC drivers.
Maybe Mr. Morgan had to catch a ride to work, the Buick isn't moving until we get a group of men over to pick it up and place that wheel back on solid ground.

Tom's brother Danny standing by another bus stop sign across the street, in front of a vacant lot, circa 1960.

The University Professor's home, the son probably wondering what was happening in our yard. Just to the right of the young man, someone is holding a dinner plate.

With 4 children playing outside, there was certainly a bit of noise around the Morgan yard.

Tom drew-up a map of the property.

"There was a really gnarled tree back in the NE corner of our yard that we called the "witch tree."

"I have no idea what kind of tree it was.  I don't recall it having many, if any leaves, but it did have runny white sap, that we of course assumed was witch's blood.  The imagination of an 8 year old boy."

The Morgan children.  Tom (back to us) looks to be doing something with a garden tool of some sort, beside, what looks to be a newly planted tree.

Cub Scout Den 6, Taipei, Spring 1960. 

 Cub Scout Den 6, Taipei,  Spring 1960.
Mei Lu, the Morgan Ama and the 3 Morgan daughters, Spring 1960, in front of the car port.

Now, let's take a drive around town.  

We have a number of interesting photos from the 1950s, which are not often seen.

Here's Taipei South Gate, late 1950s

Looking closely, it's impossible to determine what happened to the wall of the gate.  Most would probably say, the wall was struck by a vehicle of some sort.  

Taipei South Gate 2012, courtesy Google Earth.

The gate has undergone a "facelift."

Notice that area on the wall where structural wall damage was noticeable in the black and white photo above.  Interestingly, nearly 60 years later that damaged area can still be identified.

Zhongshan Hall 1950s

If we turn on the first street as we drive around the Taipei South Gate circle, we turn onto Yanping South Road.  Driving north a few blocks we'll run directly into Zhongshan Hall.  

This building was apparently where the first Assembly of the KMT Party met in 1949.

Here's the same hall, still being used today I took this photo a couple of months ago.

Just a short block to my back side, is a small restaurant which serves very good Chinese food, prepared in the "old" style.  

I also visited a restaurant in another area of Taipei, last month, which served rice in the old, Bento metal lunch boxes, with a nice amount of flavorful sauce and black sesame seeds sprinkled over the rice.  Lots of very good restaurants in Taipei today. It's hard not to gain serious weight eating lunch in Taipei restaurants every day.

In relationship to where this building stands, you would find the Sugar Building just to the back of the Hall, off to the right, north of the First Company.  It held a number of US Military offices.

First Company was the first "Department Store" in Taipei, and they installed and introduced the "first" escalators in town..  Perhaps you visited the store and rode those escalators yourself 

Let's move on - northward toward the U.S. MAAG Compound.

We're right across the road from the Gas Station in the MAAG Compound.  I don't think the gas station was ever moved, so this location is probably the same as everyone visited through all the years the U.S. was in Taiwan.

Some children, including Danny, relaxing in one of trees across from the gas station.

Look on the left, in back of the Chevy.  There's the MAAG Directory Sign.

  This photo was taken by Ira House circa 1955-1956. Ira worked in the Communications Center, inside the Sugar Building.

This is probably the same sign seen on the left side of the black & white photo above.

2 of the pointing signs, on the upper right side, are hard to read.

HQTRS T&C  - is this correct?   

AMR W3 QTRS -  is this correct?

Please give us your best guess in a Comment at end of this story. Thank you.

Here's Tommy with the Taiwan Military men, watching something going-on.. must be interesting.

What was going on in this area when the photos were taken.

If you look between Tommy and the other boy on the left side of the photo, toward the top of the photo, you'll see the Chapel Announcement Board.

I believe the kids were outside,  probably waiting for Mom to come out to the car from Sunday Services at the MAAG Chapel.  You know, after church, everyone meets and greets others and invariably, long conversations ensue.  But, there are many things youngsters can watch and get into while waiting for their parents to come to the car....

Tom writes, which I believe was the MAAG Compound (HSA West Compound), "The MAAG center had a "movie theater" where we went to watch the movies on Saturdays.  That theater may not have been a theater at all. I recall it being some kind of lunchroom or something, with windows covered.  We might have sat in folding chairs.  I think the front doors were a pair of a single doors like a church would have."

Does anyone remember where movies were shown in the old MAAG Compound?  
Please leave a Comment at the end of this story ~ Thank you.

Let's drive a block north to the Officer's Club.

"The Movie at the O Club was a much more theater like place.  I don't think we ever went to a movie there, but I believe they had velvet curtains at the doorway into the theater.  In the restaurant, we always got our favorite waiter.  I believe he went by the name of "Sparky."  I have spent many years trying to duplicate the swordfish steak we got there.  I assume it was really cheap, or we would never have had it.  My Dad could squeeze a penny until Lincoln cried."

Suzy and Tisa at the O'Club pool, September 1958. 

Some of the kids and Mom at the O'Club pool, September 1958.

Here's Tommy (Tom) at what he remembers as the Taipei Air Station pool, in 1959.
 I don't recognize the tall sign in the background, but the large hill in the background looks like the Antenna Hill above Taipei Air Station.

What is that tall structure just to the rear?   Anyone remember?

O'Club on Chungshan North Road circa 1956, taken by Gordon Stewart Wight courtesy of his daughter, Rena Wight Edelen. 

MAAG O'Club Pool, 1957, courtesy Tom Jones

Across the street, you can see, through the trees,  Hostel 2, on Chungshan North Road.

Tommy and Danny, part of the choir assembled and performing at what appears to be, the MAAG O'Club, during Christmas season, 1958.

Tom's family attended services at St. Christopher's Catholic Church, a block or so south of the MAAG Compound on Chungshan North Road 

These children are probably from St. Christopher's Church.  Back in the 1950's just about everyone went to church, so there would have been many children in the St. Christopher's Children's choir.

This also may have been, a mixed choir, also including children from the MAAG Chapel where both Catholic and Protestant families worshiped. There could be as many children off to the right hand side of this photo as we see here.

Having tried to explain all of the possibilities, I must say, God Bless the Children and their Families.... 

Courtesy Donald Curtis 1959-1960
St. Christopher's Church, Taipei.

  Entrance to the Grand Hotel 1950s.

We move to the bank of the Tamsui river. 

Looking at the Tamsui River, westward toward the old bridge, zoo, Children's park.  
Grand Hotel, just right, up the hill from trees on top right side of this photo.

Moving left from photo above we can see the Grand Hotel on the hill above.

Tamsui River, looking farther to the right.

Interesting photo, looks like a woman is pole fishing just below, a couple of men preparing to shove off.  One or two people swimming in the river, one or two boats fishing.
The Grand Hotel upward from the trees in upper left of this photo.

You can see the road skirting the left side of this photoThe road is basically the same today.

Great set of photos.

Let's return to another famous site in Taipei.

 The Rose Marie Restaurant, Spring 1960.

The Rose Marie was on the corner oChungshan North Road, off to the right where the two buses are and Nanjing Road (Nanking Road when this photo was taken.)

The Rose Marie Restaurant building, taken a couple of months ago.

It's the same shell of the old building, with additions and extensive remodeling.

The Rose Marie Restaurant was closed many years ago.

Before we close, a note from Tom......

"Another memory I have was there were occasional flyovers by some planes that would dump out colored strips of paper with Chinese writing on them.

I never knew whether these were KMT propaganda, or if the Red Chinese were actually dropping surrender suggestions.  

I do remember that we thought it was really special that someone cared enough to air mail us pretty strips of paper..

Kids!  What can you say.

A BIG Thank you to Tom Morgan for sharing so many beautiful photos.

Tom say's he has a few more to share as he progresses through his sorting and printing process.

And, does anyone else remember the colored strips of paper falling from the sky?

Please leave your Comments below for everyone to see.