China - October 1996
A Post Card from
An American Dentist
October - November 1995
I was intrigued by your mention that Richard was invited to do an aerobics workshop in China. When I was there, one morning in Beijing, I left the hotel before 6:00a.m. and walked toward the Forbidden City. In one park not far from the hotel there were probably a few hundred people doing tai chi. Then, at the park across from the moat of the Forbidden City, where the hill is that was created by the material from the moat, there were again lots of people exercising, but it looked more like an aerobics class than tai chi. We were invited to come in and join in but didn't have enough time - darn.
. . . . . . . . . .
The Gang of Four destroyed it all.
Shanghai, China - July 1991
Tsingtao, Shantung Peninsula, North China - Winter 1948
Frank Baillie, LT USN ret.
a sunny day in early winter of 1948 & a NATS, Naval Air Transport
Service, R5-D (C-54 or DC-5 take your choice) took off from Agana Guam
AFB & I was on the way
to Tsingtao with a passenger stop at Shanghai's Kang Wan airfield. At
the time I was a Seaman first class Aerographer (weather striker) E-3. I
stepped off the airplane at MCAF Tsan
Kou into a cold, biting, yellow dust laden wind off the Gobi Desert.
Off to one side were a number of
R5-C Curtis "Commandos" of
VMR-153. Beyond them was a
fighter line with gull-winged F-4-U "Corsairs" of VMF-211.
There may have been one or two CAT (China Air Transport.
Chennault's Flying Tiger Airline) R5-Cs parked near base Ops as well.
Across the field was a Chinese Air force fighter line of P-51
Mustangs. After a good deal of rubber necking at the a/c I stowed my sea bag
& go-to-hell-bag (small hand bag) in a rickety Navy bus which took
off heading for town. While
enroute I gawked at a lot of new sights & sniffed at some new
smells. Part of that smell came from youngsters wearing conveniently
designed trousers who relieved themselves in the gutters of the city.
The odor of garlic was pervasive & I found that Chinese
people ate raw garlic as they would a piece of fruit. I've since been
told that garlic is an effective medication for high blood pressure so
perhaps it was a medication as well as a "fruit" for them.
My new home
away from home, USS Estes AGC-12, was tied up at a waterfront finger
pier. I climbed the after ladder, saluted the colors & the Petty
Officer of the watch & began the pain-in-the-butt process of
checking in. ESTES was an Amphibious force Flagship & she carried
the Flag of Com NavWes Pac, VADM Oscar Badger, the inventor of napalm.
His was a high powered staff with RADM Reese as Chief of staff & a
Navy 4 striper or Marine Colonel in every department. I met the Admiral
one morning when a golden cocker spaniel stuck his nose in the door of
our office. I bent to pet
the dog & then looked up seeing the blue trousers of his master.
Scrambled eggs, lots of ribbons, lots of gold stripes. I damned
near got whiplash snapping to & saluting. He smiled, wished me a
good morning & went on his way.
I wondered who followed him on pooper scooper duty.
Boss, the Staff Weather Officer, was the late Captain Irwin Forest
Beyerly, one of whose
previous postings was as the last CO of SACO, the WW2 Sino-American
Cooperative Organization, sometimes called the "Rice Paddy
Navy". An Aerm 1/C,
E-6, named Nelson, was TAD to the Staff from Fleet Weather Shanghai
& had been a SACO member. He was a tale teller of a high order &
we really enjoyed his sea stories. Late in the war Captain Beyerly had
"fleeted up" from Chief of Staff,
relieving RADM Milton "Mary" Miles who was sent to
China by CNO ADM Ernest King in the late spring of 1943 with verbal
orders "to find out what's going on in China, establish a weather
reporting net, prepare the China coast in anyway you can for US landings
in three or four years & in the meantime do whatever you can to help
the Navy & to heckle the Japanese."
Captain Miles was known as "Mary" Miles by his
Annapolis classmates after a movie star of the era. SACO was Captain
Miles response to the Admiral’s orders & it was a story in &
of itself. If you've ever
read Milton Caniff's "Terry & the Pirates" you have a hint
about their organization. Two
person weather units consisting of
a weatherman & a radioman associated with small groups of
Chinese guerrillas were spotted all over the country. Along with coast
watcher units Their weather reports aided weathermen all over the
western Pacific in forecasting for operations against Japan. Marines
& Army personnel joined SACO as well, heading up & training
guerilla units which reached 80,000 strong at one point. Guerrillas
included cavalry in Mongolia & a "spit kit" Navy of junks,
one of whose leaders was a Chinese lady pirate,
the inspiration for Milton Caniff's ("Terry & the Pirate's")
Dragon Lady. SACO rescued
30 allied pilots & 46 aircrew men shot down over China & the
coastal waters. SACO guerillas accounted for thousands of Japanese
casualties & widespread destruction of arms & equipment. SACO junks fought the final "sea battle" of WW2 two
days after the armistice. Two small SACO junks met a large Japanese junk
which hadn't got the word. The CO of one SACO junk was a Marine 2nd LT
named Stewart Pittman . The good guys won through accurate machine gun
& bazooka fire which disabled a field gun mounted on the Japanese
Junk. The Japanese officer CO surrendered his sword to Navy LT
The war was long over in 1948 & I was a 19 year old sailor on a mission. Liberty call. Steak & eggs at the EM Club was a great start & I really pigged out washing it down with a beer or two. I loved that mural behind the bar. The story was that two talented sailors on the way stateside for a court martial painted it. One part showed Old man Neptune straining to chase a gorgeous mermaid while an old gal, a sea hag if I ever saw one, was holding him back. Another portion of the mural depicted a pro station line with assorted sailors & Marines lined up for their treatment. The only figures I remember were a sailor at the end of the line who was holding up one finger & the mama san facing him who held up two fingers. A pretty little Chinese girl stood behind her with head bowed & a finger in her mouth. In the middle of the line was a Marine MSGT in an overcoat with the collar up (to hide his identity) while holding a tooth-brush. A photo mate friend took pictures of the mural & gave me pair of 8 x 10s which I treasured until my late wife saw them early in my marriage & deep sixed them. It's a good thing I loved the lady or I would have been in the "monkey house" for assault at the very least. I’ve since found new source for copys of the pictures.
the evening of that first liberty I decided that Tsingtao beer went down
very nicely. You remember those bottles with Pagoda Pier pictured on the
label. Some Chinese restaurants are selling it in this country now.
Medics told me a cock & bull story later about some gruesome
ingredients found in my favorite beer at that time & I couldn't
stomach it for several days. Our rickshaw boys showed us pictures of
Betty Grable & Rita Hayworth, hinting that they could be found at a
local establishment. Naturally we had to check it out by moving through
a two table bar via a secret passageway into the courtyard of Ping Kong
Do Lee's "House of 1000 assholes". Don't blame me. That's what
they called it. I believe that the Chinese called ALL brothels by that
name. Yes, we had seen all the VD horror movies & yes we practiced
safe sex. Later, after one
or two more Tsingtao beers we decided to look for Betty & Rita again
since they weren't there for our first visit.
If at first you don't succeed & all that stuff. Actually we
thought that perhaps the third time was charmed & tried another
entrance but ended up in the same courtyard. Besides, I had been a
virgin & it seemed like a good idea at the time.
All in all I must say that my first liberty in China was a
success & I didn't come down with anything infectious.
Rickshaw boys were friendly & I didn't hold their lies about
Betty & Rita against them. I learned that "hubba hubba"
meant hurry up & later that when they talked about a "mala can
so pee womba tooza" (never could spell) they were saying that I was
the son of a monkey & a turtle. Like the Japanese the Chinese don't
have swear words, or so I've been told, but they could still tell
someone off to a fare thee well. One very noteworthy thing about those
rickshaw & pedicab men were their heavily muscled hips & legs.
The sad thing about them was the emaciated upper bodies that went with
those Doc Blanchard hips & legs. (He was that Army fullback in the
war years). Later in my tour I would have a problem with rickshaw boys
& their friends. On entering an alley we were rushed by a group of
street thugs. Someone slipped my expansion band watch from my wrist
& they all took off in different directions. The rickshaw boys pled
innocence but we suspected they had led us into a trap & we refused
to pay them. Later I heard of cases in which the rickshaw boys would
pull a bicycle chain as a weapon from a box under the foot rest. I might
have been able to find & buy back my own watch at "Thieves
Alley" on the following night.
pawnyos (friends) taught me to sing Mayo chen, mayo chow, mayo goonya,
ding boo hao (with a bad accent). It means no money, no rice, no lady,
things are bad. I learned a bit of pidgin Chinese but never got very
good at it. Mayo kwanchee
(doesn't matter), Megwa hi-gee (American sailor), feegee (airplane?),
sigh gen (take it easy) knee hao (hello), boo shih (not so) & I
thought they were mispronouncing an English word, maybe they were??),
Hao bah (OK), gom bay (a toast, down the hatch, up yours, whatever).
Bee rue ...?... or was that Japanese for beer?
I learned a
little Japanese in later years which I sometimes mixed up with what
little Chinese I picked up. Who remembers "muh-she muh-she, ah no
nay..ah no nay, muh she muh she, ah no nay, Ah so deska"? It is
gibberish & actually means hello, hello, hey there (repeated) is
that right? During my 1969
to 1973 twilight tour at Fleet Weather Central, Rota Spain I found
myself talking to our Spanish maid in a mixture of High School Spanish,
pidgin Chinese & Japanese. Ooops.
buddy, S 1/c Aerm, Bill Willis, was transferred TAD to MCAF Tsan Kou so
that their weather office could support night flight operations with 24
hour weather observation coverage. Bill took to duty at Tsan Kou like a
duck to water. I believe he would have preferred to be a Marine.
Yes, he's a CMA (China Marine Association) member & the guy
that recruited me as a matter of fact. We really enjoyed his stories of
day to day life at MCAF (Marine
Corps Air Facility) Tsan Kou when he visited the ship for pay days.
Little did I know that I would be his relief.
On one of
his jeep trips to the MCAF from the ship they were stopped by Chinese
soldiers who blocked traffic both ways.
Accused bah loo (Communist) prisoners were forced to dig their
own graves & kneel in position so as to topple into them when the
NCO or Officer in charge shot them in the back of the head. Needless to
say It was an unnerving experience for him.
was relieved by USS Eldorado, AGC-11 which made several interesting
trips in the next months including Hong Kong where we visited the China
Fleet Club. Actually our first stop in Hong Kong was a hotel restaurant
which we were told served fresh milk & great ice cream. Do you
remember powdered milk? During
later tours I got to try re-constituted milk in Japan which wasn't too
bad. We stopped in at Gingles bar on Kowloon where I ordered a stout,
not knowing what the blazes it was.
Didn't much like it. The
story went that Gingles was a Navy Chief who retired in Hong Kong, went
out to celebrate his prospective return to CONUS (continental limits of
the United States) only to wake up the next morning as a bar owner. We
met a pair of lovelies in a Kowloon hotel & spent a few pleasant
hours therein. I visited "The Real Jimmy Lee", a tailor, &
had a double breasted pin stripe suit made that would have looked great
on Al Capone in the 30s, but not me. My taste was all in my mouth. Later
that day we checked out the China Fleet Club. The Brits were great
hosts. They were partial to drinking contests, pouring whiskey into
their beer pitchers, singing up a storm & standing on the tables to
recite poetry. I guess it was poetry. I was flying high & didn't
listen too closely. We made
friends with a group of sailors from the cruiser London & a recently
busted Army Private who had survived the Dunkirk evacuation of WW2.
Tsingtao I had an
Eisenhower style jacket made....oops I mean a Vandegrift style jacket.
It was blue serge with a large AG rating insignia (an arrow vertically
thru a winged circle) embroidered in white on the back & my name in
white over the right pocket. Naturally
there was a large dragon embroidered into the lining. My younger
brother, 13 at the time & now a 30 plus year retired Master Chief
Aerographer's Mate & 13 year retiree from the National Weather
Service, thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread when I
returned on leave in my home town, Brockton MA. The F. Baillie initial
worked for him since his name is Fred. That jacket & a
"liberated" leather flight jacket may have been factors in his
decision to become a Navy weatherman a few years later. The flight
jacket was legal, having been officially "lost to inventory"
at MCAF just prior to the 1949 evacuation. It had been surveyed (thrown
away) but was still in fair condition. That same "lost to
inventory" set up allowed ships in the harbor to pick up any
material which would be useful to them from abandoned Marine supplies.
else ever buy one of those photo albums with great looking leather
covers only to find that on warm days, or if wet, that the cover smelled
of the horse urine or whatever it was the used to cure the leather?
I used to enjoy bartering with the various merchants & for
many years I had a canvas bag full of interesting, widely assorted
eastern coinage & paper money thrown in to sweeten the deal.
Included were German coins
from the years that Tsingtao was a German concession & trade
(silver) dollars from Mexico, China & Japan. My Mom gave my
"treasure" to a coin collecting nephew who would retire as a
CDR USN having added many interesting coins from many countries to the
In the Straits of Formosa, enroute to Swatow, our ship ran through a very unstable air mass & was forced to dodge waterspouts for about an hour. They were all around us. Most are not a problem but they have the potential to be destructive. Later we visited Formosa where we learned to love the "hotsy baths" not to mention the "hotsy bath hostesses". One early liberty in Keelung was a "bummer" in that my first stop was a bar which served me some bad brandy. It hit bottom & came right back up. I had an instant splitting headache & headed back to the ship. I heard later that several of my shipmates had become very ill on bad liquor. In fact I saw one of them. He was a mess. Sick from both ends. We tossed him into a shower, made him strip & throw away his clothes & didn't let him out until he & the shower was clean. No easy task for us since he was "out of it". I drank beer only in Formosa after that day
returning to Tsingtao we spent a few days in Shanghai where we visited the
Fleet Weather Central, a sailor's dream as a duty station. San she she dah
shay loo. 377 Great Western Road. Within
a walled compound there were
three large buildings, a lanai on the front lawn & a multiple car
garage. It had all the
earmarks of an old embassy with a Chinese soldier on guard at the gate 24
hours a day (more on him later). One building served as the barracks with
cooks (meals were marvelous), maids & houseboys.
I thought it was the Ritz. A second building was the Weather
Central & the third a dormitory for the Chinese workers. Parties there
ranged from record hops with young civilian teeny boppers & everyone
on their best behavior to parties where ladies of the evening from a
nearby "establishment" were
guests. I should add that the officers & CPOs left the premises
after normal working hours. What they didn't know didn't hurt the partiers. I hope the
statute of limitations will apply here. In both cases the cooks put on
some wonderful buffets. In
these politically correct days there would have been court martials for
ALL (maybe even then). One of the CPOs was Arthur "Red" Thomas
who was a SACO veteran. Tailors, shoemakers & barbers visited
regularly. Rickshaw boys recognized rating badges & knew a weatherman
when they saw one. If shipboard weathermen weren't on their toes they
might end up at Fleet Weather rather than at the fleet landing.
One of the Fleet Weather troops (Ed Rousseau) returning from liberty took an interest in the Chinese guard's weapon, a Thompson sub machine so I was told, & the soldier foolishly handed it to the inebriated swabbie who promptly fired a burst into the air & luckily didn't put holes in anything important. That sobered him up & he cleared out tout suite (misspelled?). I took one year of French in High School but it didn't take. Many months later in the last days before the 1949 evacuation we played a pickup basketball game with French sailors from the Corvette, “Commandant de Timidante”. I gave them a "comment talley vous" (how are ya) which was a mistake since they then thought that I knew how to speak their language. After the first word or two I was lost but fortunately we didn't need to speak the language to play the game. I don't remember the score which may mean that we lost but it was fun. Their ship had livestock living on the stern which a lot of the troops thought to be pretty funny but who was it that had fresh eggs
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