2014年7月24日 星期四

淡水戲館 Tamsui Theater

Interestingly, there is a photo of  淡水戲館 available on the internet. Many have mistaken it as a theater in Tamsui. In fact, it was located in 建成町 (on now 太原路), in Taipei.

Another one can be seen at  http://taipics.com/taipei_danshui.php

This theater was built in 1909 by 荒井泰治 et al to show traditional Chinese dramas. It was bought in 1915 by 辜顯榮 who renovated it, re-named it 臺灣新舞臺, and invited Peking Opera troupes from Shanghai to be the main attraction. Re-organized as 新舞社歌劇團 in 1931, it became all 歌仔戲 [Taiwanese operas] all the time. Quite a popular place in Taipei until May, 1945, when this area including the theater building was destroyed by the US bombing of Taipei.

On the old map, the red circle indicates its original location:
Also, Osaka Shipping is seen at the bottom, 
across the street from Taipei Station
Source: here 

Ours in Tamsui, the 淡水戲院, was far less grandiose in outward appearance albeit no less popular.

2014年7月22日 星期二

Fishing in Tamsui

Commercial fishing is no longer allowed in Tamsui River for food safety reasons. The water is still heavily contaminated by industrial and human wastes from up-streams. Recreational fishing is also banned, in theory anyway. It is understood that any fish caught will not be used for human consumption.

It was very different, however, between the end of Tamsui as the biggest seaport in Taiwan and the beginning of Taipei MRT operation, Tamsui was a leisurely-paced town with its residents going about daily activities that included fishing in and along Tamsui River.

Only the 榕堤 still brings back memories for old-time Tamsui-lang. It is one small section along the River, near the end of the walkway distal from the MRT Station, a cool spot with old giant 榕 trees providing shades even in the harshest of all summertime. This had always been a popular fishing spot for children and adults alike.

Short fishing poles with reels were fairly rare at that time; they were really for deep-water fishing. You could row yourself out on a sampan to the middle of the River and cast out the line until the hook-and-sinker sank to the riverbed and waited for the fishes to bite. Most people stayed on shore.

For shoreline fishing, long skinny bamboo poles without the reels were used. The baits were usually fresh earthworms or seaworms. The latter were aplenty on the riverside after the tides receded. One simply dug around the sand to find them and collect them in a tin can.

To assemble your own fishing pole, the art of knot-tying is crucial. It was done by using a piece of sufficiently long size AA nylon thread (so the sinker could rest on the bottom of the River), a steel hook, and a lead sinker.

First, a fish hook was selected - its size depended on
how ambitious you were, or more practically,
what kind of fish you wished to catch
You'd also need a lead sinker, the bullet type with a metal ring
were preferred to those olive-shaped with only a tiny hole drilled through
the center from top to bottom
How to tie the hook using Size A thread
This copper double ring was used to link the hook and 
the sinker on one end,
and the other, to the tip of the fishing pole
And what kind of fish could one catch in Tamsui River? See here.

2014年7月20日 星期日

Going to movies

Going to movies has always been a popular pastime in Taiwan. Perhaps even more so in Tamsui. There were 4 theaters in this tiny town of ours. The oldest 淡水戲院, a no-name open-air movie theater, and the newer 光復戲院 are all gone. 淡江戲院, the second oldest, is the lone survivor, still in business today.

淡水戲院 was initially for showing 新劇, Broadway-style plays with real actors until later conversion into a movie house. It had rows of long wooden benches, quite uncomfortable and yet the theater was usually packed. It was burn down in 1992, never re-built. 光復 went into bankruptcy around the same time; it did not survive the economic hardship in Tamsui brought on by the MRT construction starting in 1988. And the no name one, across the street from 淡江 was really only temporary anyway.

In the 50s, there were two major types of movie-goers in Tamsui, older Tamsui-lang who preferred Japanese movies and the garrison force soldiers who were partial to 國語片. The tickets cost NT$2.00, half price for the soldiers. Kids were far less discriminating, we saw everything. It was raised to NT$5.00 in the 60s to accommodate the increasing college student population in town; by then, second-round Hollywood movies dominated.

The old sign on the building reads from right to left, and the newer sign,
left to right, reflecting the change of times
New policy: two movies for the price of one and stay as long as you wish

In the 50s, lasting into the 60s, to advertise the picture shows, each afternoon, a boxy tricycle-cart equipped with a loudspeaker went around town announcing the new arrivals. Or one could simply look up the posters pasted onto display boards in your neighborhood (above).

To enjoy first-round movies in air-conditioned comfort, one could always travel by train (now the MRT) to Taipei. On weekends, on a date, perhaps. And pay through your nose for the exorbitant ticket price, usually 3 times more than Tamsui, even more if you purchased 黃牛票. Of course, there were other amenities, each seat was assigned and well-stocked concession stands, for example. And at a time when not many understood English or other foreign languages except maybe Japanese, the free hand-out "本事", a synopsis of the movies, was a must. An example from 1965 is shown below:

And the movie was of course:
To the right of D-DAY: "with Chinese subtitles"

2014年7月2日 星期三

A deadly day

10/12/1944 "VT-18 squadron aircraft from USS Intrepid attacked the Rising Sun Petroleum Company facilities in Tamsui and the military seaplane base immediately next to Rising Sun facilities in northern Taiwan."

We only know 20 Tamsui-lang (with possibly one visitor from out-of-town) were senselessly killed in this raid.

Photos from http://ww2db.com/ referred by Marc of Taipics.com