I get many requests from readers, most of which I don’t have the time or expertise to fulfill, but one from a certain JDP piqued my interest. He wrote me and told me that in the early 1970s he had rented a house in the alley above, in Taichung, near the airbase (now the airport). From his house he could see Morrison Christian Academy — in those days the area was almost entirely farms. The US Cold War presence in Taiwan was vast — in the Vietnam War damaged US aircraft were repaired at the field in Tainan, and there was a major airbase here in Taichung. Many street names in the city preserve that US presence — the old Frog Mexican Restaurant is on “Huamei” (China-America) street, and nearby is “Meicun” (American Village) street. Taya Street traditionally divided the Americans on one side from the Taiwanese on the other. Much of this history is slowly fading away as individuals pass and older buildings are plowed under.

JDP asked me if I could go and take some pictures of his old house. He told me that his landlord had been from Makung in the Penghu, and he had lived at #50. In the pic above, #50 is now an ugly modern three story tiled concrete pile. As I stopped to take a picture, an older women sitting on a scooter in front demanded to know what I was doing. I explained to her that my uncle had been in the US military here (actually true, I had an uncle in Tainan fixing aircraft in the 1960s) and that he had lived at #50. Was this place still owned by the man from Makung? The old woman snarled at me in a tone that suggested I was a congenital idiot, and told me that the Penghu man owned #44, one of the smaller bungalows in the foreground of the picture.

I rapped on the door of #44 and a pleasant looking woman in her 30s answered. Yes, the Penghu man owned the house, but no, he didn’t live here. She explained that she had lived there for more than thirty years, but knew the house had been rented to US servicemen before. She didn’t know my friend’s name. I thanked her for her trouble, and adventure over, hopped on the scooter and headed home.