Hsinchu 新竹市


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The Aandahl Family of Hsinchu


Rev. Elliot and Mrs. Ruth Aandahl are shown on their 25th wedding anniversary on March 1, 1957 in Hsinchu. Together they lived in Hsinchu and worked as missionaries for nearly 24 years until their retirement in 1977.

Both of my parents were born of Norwegian immigrant parents in America. My father went to China when he was two years old in 1910 with his missionary parents. He was raised in China and then returned to work there spending a total of 26 years in China through 1949.

My mother lived in China for only 6 years as a first term missionary with my father in the 1930s; her time there was curtailed by the Sino-Japanese war, World War II and then the Chinese civil war. While my mother worked as a Lutheran missionary for all her years in Taiwan, my father worked in various roles. He was a Lutheran missionary from 1954 to 1961, he then worked for two years as a representative for Hungtai Engineering Services (HES), a company which moved the household goods of American military personnel in and out of Taiwan. This was followed by five years with Taiwan Christian Service, a relief organization, from 1963 to 1968 before he served as the Administrator of Taiwan Leprosy Relief Association for his last ten years in Taiwan from 1968 to 1977.

I was privileged to have been raised in Taiwan from the young age of 1 until I graduated from high school and left for college in the United States at age 18. To me, Taiwan (or Formosa as it was then widely called) was the best possible childhood home that I could imagine and I still hold these years of my life in the best regard.

My father was in the US Marine Corps Reserve for twenty years following two years of active duty immediately before and after the end of the Second World War. My father joined the US Marine Corps in 1944. In a little known piece of Marine Corps history, he was part of the force that landed in Tangku, China in late August 1945 and then advanced to Tientsin to accept the surrender of Japanese forces.

Later, his Marine unit moved on and secured Peking (now called Beijing), which at that time was not the capital of China, Nanking (now called Nanjing) was. This was part of an American initiative to land Marines in key Chinese coastal cities at the conclusion of World War II so they could be turned over to the Chinese Nationalist forces instead of falling to Chinese Communist control.

My father is pictured here in Tsoying, outside of Kaohsiung, while on his annual 2-week active duty stint in 1958. He retired from the Marine Corps Reserve in 1966 with the rank of Lt. Colonel.

When my family, minus my oldest sister, Mayling, who remained in the United States for high school, arrived in Taiwan in January 1954, it was necessary for my parents to secure the services of a nanny (or amah as they were referred to in Chinese) for me as they both worked. A Mrs. Chou was suggested. She had fled to Taiwan in 1949 with her husband who was a regular in the Chinese Nationalist army. In fleeing, they had left their four children behind in China with grandparents. Mrs. Chou and I formed a deep relationship and soon I had nicknamed her Ha for her gracious sense of humor.

Here, my third sister, Meris, and I are pictured with Ha on a river bank near Chutung, up in the hills from Hsinchu circa 1954.

Our first house in Hsinchu was a Japanese style home located at 52 Kung Yuan Lu (Park Road). The Japanese had occupied Taiwan for 50 years from 1895 until the end of World War II and the majority of housing stock in Taiwan in the 1950s was still of Japanese design.

My third sister, Meris, is on Kung Yuan Lu on her bicycle outside our walled house, circa 1954. In the background, looking to the southwest, is the traffic circle and intersection with Kwang Fu Lu (Liberation Road).


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