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

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas 2017 from Taiwan

Our Annual Christmas Story comes around again, Christmas Day, 2017.

Here is a partial listing and links to previous Christmas Day posts.

Perhaps these will be "new" to you or you'll enjoy seeing many old photos again.

Here are the two stories...

You'll probably find something in both of these stories you were not aware of.

- AND -
 I think you might find the article below,  published in this morning's 
 Taipei Times newspaper of interest.
 The article was written by Jerome Keating, who resides in Taipei.

"Let Taiwan finally just be Taiwan" 

Maybe it's time we consider something that makes sense.

Jerome Keating's Taipei Times article HERE

Merry Christmas to each of you!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Things Are Not As They Seem?

The Headline on Sunday's, Taipei Times Newspaper, was rather startling!

"Chinese official threatens forced unity"

The Taipei Times article begins....

"NOT JOKING":  Cross-strait ties are none of the US' business and do not need to rely on the mediation of any other nation, Li Kexin of the Chinese embassy in the US said."

Read the complete story at the Taipei Times web site, HERE

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Soldier Arrives at MAAG Taiwan in 1955 - 62 Years Ago

This story has been under development for some time. 
Many starts and stoppages.  Vacations, travel and what-have-you..

It's time to introduce my friend, Ira House, from the Gem state.

Ira grew-up in the small farming community of Squirrel, Idaho.
As the crow flies, Squirrel is located southwest of Yellowstone National Park.

Like so many small towns, the buildings and sidewalks have disappeared.  

Today, only a few folks reside in the area surrounding the old town of Squirrel.
You can find Squirrel by searching Google Earth.  

No stores or gas stations standing today, they only exist in the minds and hearts of  
the Old Timer's" of Squirrel.

While Ira was talking with me about Squirrel, he mentioned the 1953 film, "Shane" staring Alan Ladd, which made the rounds in Taipei during his tour.
Some scenes in the film were photographed inside Grand Teton National Park, which is just over the mountains from Ira's farm home outside of Squirrel. 
While watching the film, Ira felt "Homesick" for his Idaho home and family.

How is it, that such small, passing, heartfelt moments, are forever in our memories? 

Ira arrived in Keelung Harbor, Friday morning, 15 September 1955. 
A long 13 day voyage across the Pacific inside the rustic, USS General Mitchell. 

Smiles were the order of the day!  

USS General William Mitchell

Ira, fresh out of Army Signal School at Fort Monmouth, was among a group of 15 young soldiers happy to be on dry land again.

 Ira House, mid 1950s, standing inside newly constructed Signal Compound.

A really "sharp" looking uniform and hat.
Compare Ira's 1950's uniform to the US Army uniform of today.

I asked Ira about his "buckle shoes".
Ira had seen an Officer in the Sugar Building wearing buckle footwear.
He really liked the shoes and had a pair made for himself.
Back-in-those-days, in Taiwan, your shoes were hand-made to fit your feet.

I asked Ira if the Officer he saw wearing the footwear was an Aviation Officer. 
Ira thought he was.
I seem to remember that aviators could wear purchased boots of their choice if they were the correct color being worn at that time.  
Brown and black shoes were interchanged depending on the uniform. 

Back to Keelung - 15 September 1955....

The men disembark from the ship and haul their gear and bags to a waiting military bus.

A short time later, a man in khaki pants and an Aloha shirt stepped onto the bus. 
He introduced himself as Colonel, so and so and welcomed the men to MAAG Taiwan.

After announcing a list of "do's and don'ts, the Colonel asked one of the men,
what Army school he had graduated from.

The young man answered. "Microwave School, sir."

The Colonel seemed surprised!
He said, "We don't have Microwave equipment in Taiwan, and the lowest rank in MAAG are E4s; all you men are E3s."

Promotions for soldier's back in those days were made to fill grade authorizations in the unit's TOE (Table of Organization and Equipment.)

In the case of the 15 newly assigned soldiers, Ira being one of them, the slots in the TOE they occupied called for soldiers holding the rank of E4.

Yes, you guessed it.. all of the men were shortly promoted to the E4 pay grade.
In Ira's photo above, he is wearing the Specialist Insignia which indicated he was an E-4.  The Specialist insignia's have been changed a number of times since the 1950s.

The bus ride from Keelung ended inside the MAAG Compound.

For those who arrived in Taipei in the 1960s onward, the MAAG Compound was later
 called, Headquarters Support Activity, West Compound. 

Not sure exact date when the "MAAG Compound" became the "HSA West Compound."

The US Navy at that time also became the "Support Activity" for all US Military in Taiwan.
The Navy ran anything related to "Support" except some of the clubs, MAAGOOM, Club 63, a few other "clubs" around the island.  MAAG continued to operate these clubs. 

1956 - MAAG Compound Sign  courtesy Ira House

"We signed-in and were paid $20.00 each to hold us over until the Finance Office could in-process our pay records on Monday."

The men had not been paid for nearly 45 days, (30 day leave, travel time to the ship, sailing days from Oakland to Keelung."  About 45 days without pay.

Back in 1955, $20.00 went a long way.

Everyone got back onto the bus and we were driven to our new quarters at one of the many Hostels in Taipei.
Hostels in Taipei and Grass Mountain area from the 1956 MAAG Telephone Directory .
Courtesy of  Patrick Gannon.

The first stop on the bus-run for Ira and the rest of the men was just down the street from the MAAG Compound, outside of Hostel #12.

Hostel #12 is on the right hand side of Chung Shan North Road, maybe 200 Yards or so south of the MAAG Compound gate.
Hostel #12 in 1955 - Courtesy George Marcy - George is standing in doorway.

"As the bus came to a stop in front of the Hostel #12 gate, the NCO accompanying us told everyone to stand-up." 
"We all stood-up, myself and another soldier who were sitting in the front of the bus were told to get off and check-in at the hostel office inside the gate."

"Apparently Hostel #12 only had 2 bunks available on the Friday we arrived in Taipei."

Ira checked-in at the office and was assigned a cubical inside a room housing six men.

Some time later, as men moved out, and Ira moved-up the waiting list for a room, an opening occurred, and he was moved into a building where he had a room to himself and shared a bathroom with the adjoining room.

Hostel #12 was a very nice place, beautiful flowers everywhere.

Photos of the Hostel #12 area garden area, were all taken by Ira House, all were slides, using various cameras.
Hostel Manager
Houseboy Gam.
Other Houseboys at Hostel #12.
Garden area inside Hostel #12 grounds - 1950s.  Looks like a relaxing place to reside vs barracks living.

The hostel had a small dining-room where food and drinks were available.
Everything you ordered was "charged" to your tab.
The management would be waiting for you to "settle your charges" at the end of each month, on payday.

Ira took most of his meals at Club 63 when he wasn't on-duty. 
If you ran out of cash, you could always get credit in the form of a "chit-book "to pay for your food and drinks in 
 Club 63.

 Club 63 inside MAAG Compound,  circa mid-1950s courtesy Don Irwin.

Ira's Pay included extras above his regular pay. 

BAS, BAQ, Overseas Pay, and extra laundry allowance of $9.00 each month. 

Apparently it was thought that uniforms would wear out much faster because Commercial laundries (out-side Mama son ?) in Taipei at the time,  beat the clothing, causing the uniforms to wear out much faster than normal.  So an extra laundry allowance of $9.00 more dollars per month was paid.

A couple of months ago I decided to figure out just where Hostel #12 once sat.

I took the Metro from my apartment to the stop closest to the old MAAG Compound.

I got off and walked to the Tatung University and High School on Chung Shan North Road.

I stopped at the gate guard shack and asked if I could go in.  I gave the guard my driver's license and made my way into the property.

I looked around for a few minutes trying to find any remains of Hostel #12.  I knew that it was someplace inside the Tatung University property area, which is very large.

To make a long story short, I found an older woman who, after seeing the photo of the Hostel #12 gate in the B&W photo above, told me in English she remembered the gate in my photo as being outside on Chung Shan North Road.

She walked me to what remained of the old Hostel #12.

The buildings, as far as I could see, are all gone, BUT, the flower garden area remains.

While visiting inside the University area, I took the following photos.

This photo, looking across Garden toward where photo above was taken.

Of course, new buildings sit around the garden, but it looks about the same size as it was 62 years ago.

While I was walking around the area taking photographs, a group of young men showed up and started to shape some of the plants and bushes, others were sweeping.

I'm assuming they were students helping with jobs around the University.

These men were probably on scholarship.

Main Gate of Tatung University and High School September 2017 my iPhone photo

Below, Google Earth Map of the Tatung University and High School grounds.

Here's a clear view of the area courtesy of Google Earth.

Tatung University large green area in the left side of this photo.  Yellow pin close to the bottom left identifies the Flower Garden area in photos above.

Look toward top of the Photo just above.

The soccer stadium on left above and the other two or 3 buildings inside that piece of property is the location of the old MAAG Compound (HSA West Compound in later years)

The building just to the top right of the stadium is the building constructed with thousands of plastic bottles for the Flower Exposition a few years ago. It's called the EcoARK.

Just above the EcoARK building on Shan North Road was the location of the MAAG Officer's Club with pool and other amenities. 

Of course, just across Chung Shan North Road from the EcoARK building 
sat the old Hostel #2.

Navy Exchange, Commissary, Theater, APO, lots of warehouses, ball fields, the Taiwan Defense Command Headquarters building(s), Signal Compound, were all in the area across Chung Shan North Road from the soccer stadium onward north along right side of Chung Shan North Road.

Please click or double click on Map for large view. 
Japanese era map above,  courtesy University of Texas

Red circle, pointing out old Japanese Army Burial grounds, also graves in area of Signal Compound across street (Chung Shan North Road) to the right.

Blue circle - area where MAAG Compound was located. those black buildings were Japanese era Hospital buildings at one time.

Green circle - location of Hostel 12, where Ira resided.

  Ira kept busy when he wasn't working?

One of his interests was learning how to fly.
Fly?  Yes.   Ira attended Flying School out at Sung Shan Airport.
He build model aircraft.
He went to Ground School.
Then into the air in a Piper Cub.

Ira is the second man who attended flight school in Taipei that I'm aware of.

Who could forget - Typhoon Wanda..

The "eye" of Wanda passed to the north of Taiwan, but it brought high winds, lots of rain and pounding seas.

Ira took these photos of the high water in the streets and area around the MAAG and Signal Compound areas.

Looking back at the old Japanese Map of the MAAG Compound and across the street in what became the Signal Compound area.

Most of the area where the Signal Compound and later the "East Compound" was constructed, were old rice fields.  Marsh land at one time.

When the typhoon hit, it flooded the area around the MAAG Compound and the Signal Compound areas.

Flooding in the Signal Compound.

More Flooding from Wanda.

Flooding in Signal Compound area.

Two notes.

In the background, the long building looks like Hostel 2, which was along Chung Shan North Road.

Notice the "Grave Stone" sticking up in the foreground, photo above.

Ira said there were a number of graves that washed-up during the flooding.

The Bridge on Chung Shan North Road looking east into Keelung River

Here's a photo from George Marcy, same flooding. 
You can see Hostel 2 here also.
Notice the telephone pole, it has partially fallen and there are somewhat higher water levels.

The newly constructed Signal Compound courtesy of Tom Jones.

 One of Ira's friends, inside Signal Compound.

Notice USTDC markings on Navy colored vehicle on right. 

Most of Ira's 50+ years old photos have faded and their colors have run, rendering them unusable.

Here are a few that we were able to clean, somewhat.

These few were taken along Chungshan North Road just street-side, outside Hostel 12 gate.

A young boy checking on traffic flow.  

That Oxen has a load - Ira says, "Ultimate Recycling"

Ira's friends.

 Looks like the same men, different day, tassel shoes today.  
Lots of great shoes were purchased in Taiwan.

 Photo taken in the Garden of the Hostel I believe.

Garden area of the Hostel.

Lots of Three-Wheeled traffic on the street in front of the Hostel.

GI peddle-power moving this Pedicab..
How many of us sent photographs home of ourselves in a Pedicab?

No free lunch in Taiwan, everyone had to work.

Ira worked in the Sugar Building.

Many readers have probably never heard of the Sugar Building.

Interestingly, there was a Hostel in Tainan City in the 1950s, where some US personnel resided, which was once owned by a sugar company.  

During the early years of MAAG Taiwan, the Sugar  Building housed many offices.

Ira was driven to work and back each day in a US Military vehicle.

The distance between Ira's hostel and the Sugar Building was about 2 road miles.

The drive would be have been about like this.

Leave hostel, walk to the street,  Chung Shan North Road.  

Drive south on Chung Shan until you cross the railroad tracks, (later a bridge was constructed across the railroad tracks)  Date bridge build - unknown, proceed to the next corner.
On the corner,  Zhongxiao Road, turn right, now you are traveling on the road that passes the railroad station which would be on your right, station photo below.

Taipei Mail Station - 1955-56
Notice the black smoke rising from the steam engines waiting on the station tracks.

This is later photo, as you pass Taipei Main Station, circa 1960s.

Just down this street is the North Gate.

Here's the North Gate, we're driving around the gate and taking the street off to the left at the back of the photo.  Courtesy Clarence Spoon.  Circa 1960's.
We're on Chung Hua Road in the area most of us referred to as Haggler's Row or China Gate.
Photo courtesy of David Medendorp 1962.

 The Sugar Building is just above the Pedicab driver's hat, left side of photo.

On the roof of that building, notice what looks like a Scatter Antenna.
The windows had shutters.

Here is a great view of the Sugar Building, circa 1960s. 

To orientate yourself again.. Click or double click on this photo.
The North Gate, red circle, we just drove around in the 3d photo above, is off to the North East a couple of blocks, siting in the center of all three roads going northward in the above photo.

The photo with the green Pedicab - was taken in front of the 2nd large long building "Haggler's Row" after we drove around the North Gate, approximately at the location of the  green dot.

AND, the Sugar Building sat under the Blue Circle.

The streets and buildings have changed considerably during the past 52 years.

Many people have different memories of the streets along the front of the Sugar Building.

Here are a few photos that may help you recognize, if nothing else, the street which ran along the front of the Sugar Building.

Ira's Photo taken from atop the Sugar Building 1955-56.

This is a precious photograph!  

I have not seen any other photos from this time period showing a train passing. 

 Here, "Old Haggler's Row." Across the street, a southbound passenger train, just in front of Fuxing Elementary School, pulled by an elegant CT250 or CT270 class steam locomotive passes through the Ximen district toward Wanhua station after leaving Taipei Main station. ID of locomotive courtesy Loren Aandahl,  School and Sugar Building locations courtesy of Chris Wang.

What else has Ira taken from the roof of the building?

Ira marked this photo as being taken from the Balcony.

This photo looking eastward.  Recognize anything, remember it's 1955-56?

Back when Ira took the photograph from the Balcony of the Sugar Building, this was the  Taipei New Park.  
Later it was renamed the 228 Peace Park.

The large building with dome is the
Taipei 228 Memorial Museum

I want to point out the large white colored roofs in the upper right side of this photo, just above the bandstand and outside circular seating area.

One or two of those building were the old "Friend's of China Club and Hotel." Closed down years ago.

It is rumored that the building was owned and run by Madam Chiang. 

Interestingly, the doors to the MAAG Headquarters Building and US Aid Building were just off to the right side of the Friend's of China Club, and also the Presidential Palace, which we referred to as the Ministry of National Defense (MND) Building, in the early days, all were west of  Friends of China Club.

And people wondered how Chiang knew what we were up to!

Because the establishment was set-up to cater to foreigner's, it was always crowded.
Food, drinks and merry times abound.  

One can imagine all sorts of things that probably went on inside!

The old Friend's of China Club, courtesy Bruce Rayle circa 1957-59.

Today, this entrance can still be seen in back of a tall cinder-block wall. 
English and Chinese signage has been removed.
It is now an office of some sort, I believe it belongs to the park on which it stands. 

Read more about the Friend's of China Club in a previous story:

More photos of the street showing the Sugar Building.

The Sugar Building, 4 story building brown color building center right.  Courtesy George Lane circa 1969.  

Courtesy George Lane, Sugar Building left side of photo.

Before television, we all listened to radio.  
Unless you stayed up at night listening to shortwave radio, you listened to our Armed  Forces Radio Taipei, which also broadcast on short-wave.

The Sugar Building was the home of Armed Forces Radio, Taiwan.

1969 Photo - Parade for Little League Champions Taiwan courtesy China Gate Facebook Pages. 

Sugar building seen with canopy window shades off right side, a few buildings in the distance.

Lots of very happy Taiwan folks celebrating this day.

Ira's work station was in the Facilities Section, on the fourth floor of the Sugar Building.

The Sugar Building contained many Offices in the early years of MAAG.

Ira remembers a small snack bar where folks took a break outside the building in the rear.

I took a walk down the street in Ximen trying to find the exact location of the Sugar Building.

I used the Fuxing . Elementary School as my starting point. (You can easily see this school in the photo above,  showing the steam engine passing in front of the Sugar Building.

   Today, the old street fronting the old Sugar Building is very wide. So I walked around the area trying to get a decent photo of the sidewalk about where the old Sugar Building sat.

Just about impossible.

Here is a Google Earth Street View shot.  Impossible to get out onto the street to get this shot, too much traffic on this intersection.

The old Sugar Building would have taken-up most of the area from the tall building with green glass, just above the red front bus that's waiting at the red light, and the next 3 or 4 buildings toward the camera.

The side of Fuxing Elementary School sits along the side street that goes right and left here at this corner.  Notice to the top left side of the photo, a couple of cars and a city bus are waiting to come into this intersection. They can drive straight across and pass by the school or turn right or left on this street in the front here.

The school building is a ways back from this street, although the school property stretches to the the street.

Questions, write to me at:

Before we leave the Sugar Building area, one last photo.

This seems to be a legitimate photo, although some think a painting or a Photo Shop work-over of an old photo.

I found this photo on the Internet some time ago.
Have no idea who posted it originally.

This must be the Sugar Building. The Big Question, when did we close this building?

Tell tale signs of the room's use are staring us in the face, such as:

Cable supports hanging along the left ceiling.
Raised cement runners along the floor.  
Some type of materiel, wood or non-static material would have been laid on these runners.

This is not your "run of the mill" room in a normal building.

And, the key to Identifying the large MAAG Sign.

 How many MAAG Signs do you see in the photo?
Answer at end of story......

Here is some the equipment that was inside the Sugar Building during Ira's time.

Only a couple of photos available.

No photographs allowed inside the equipment rooms.  Hummmm...

Motor Scooters in Taiwan 1956, over at the newly built Signal Compound.

Strac soldier...

Just wanted to remind you how long ago Ira arrived in Taiwan.

Strac Chevy!

A GI always draws a crowd, outside the Hostel on Chung Shan North Road.

Leaving or entering the old MAAG Compound 1950s.
Look at the traffic outside the gate along Chung Shan North Road

Watching your friends leaving Taiwan.

Men forming up outside the front door of Club 63, inside the MAAG Compound, 1956.

Here's a map copied from the 1956 MAAG Telephone Directory.

Thank you Ira House for sharing your beautiful old photographs.

If anyone has old photos from the Sugar Building or other areas
of Taiwan, please write. 

Take care friends.

The answer to our question is 4.
If you found more, please write.