Daughter of first English radio station manager seeks childhood baby sitter

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Taipei (The China Post/ANN) - The daughter of the first English radio station manager in Taiwan expressed her hope of finding her childhood baby sitter during a recent visit to the country, a former Taiwan military bandleader said yesterday.

Mary Jane Heppe, daughter of Harold L. Arison - the first English radio station manager in Taiwan - visited the island this February in order to collect material for writing a biography on her father, said Chou Shih-wen, an ex-Republic of China military bandleader.

Arison worked at the radio station, BEC-27, which began in 1955 and was an R.O.C. government-funded project for the foreign community in Taiwan.

Later, the station became the U.S. Armed Forces Radio and Television Service in Taiwan and then changed to the American Forces Network Taiwan.

In April 16, 1979 the station became International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT) after the withdrawal of U.S. military personnel following the break in diplomatic relations with the R.O.C.

ICRT is still the only English-language radio station in Taiwan.

According to Chou, Heppe, born in 1954, came to Taipei to be reunited with his father not long after her birth.

Arison arrived in Taiwan earlier in the same year after serving as an assistant bandmaster, composer and arranger at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

While in Taiwan, he served as a music adviser to the Taiwan military, organizing and directing a music school for music teachers, bandmasters and instrumentalists.

Heppe left Taiwan with her family in 1963 and had not returned until the recent visit. Arison died of cancer on Oct. 29, 1998 at the age of 79.

To collect information in writing a biography on his deceased father, Heppe visited Taiwan on a four-week tour and met with Chou, who is currently writing a book about the history of Taiwan's military band.

Looking for Grandma Ching

During their meeting, Chou said Heppe told him that she has fond memories of her childhood in Taiwan, especially of her baby sitter, known as Ching Nai-nai or Grandma Ching.

Heppe said Ching, who lived in Keelung, was hired by her parents as a baby sitter at her home on Taipei's Zhongshan North Road.

Ching taught her a great deal and the two developed a close relationship.

Heppe said she could still count from one to 10 in Mandarin - something she learned from Ching.

Now, 50 years later, Heppe said she hopes to have a chance to reunite with Ching, who, if still alive, could be in her 90s. If Ching has passed away, she still wants to meet with her family to express her gratitude, according to Chou.

Heppe also said she expects to visit Taiwan again later this year to learn Mandarin at National Taiwan Normal University so she can better understand the information regarding her father's days in Taiwan, Chou said.

Chou said Arison made a tremendous contribution to Taiwan's military band, noting that the American officer asked for U.S. funds to set up a musician training class in Taiwan.

He also composed and arranged state ceremonial music for the R.O.C. government. Among his achievements was the rearranging and harmonizing of Taiwan's national anthem, Chou said. This version remains unchanged.

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