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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - April 19, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta Third Section The Lethbridge Herald Lethbridge, Alberta, Thursday, April 19, 1973 Pages 25-34 4 million down the hatch in JQ minutes any time Chinese sound the alarm Peking tunnels make catacombs like child's play By JOHN BURNS Special to The Herald PEKING It is vintage stuff. A sales clerk steps out from behind the counter in a crowded little clothing store, slips his fingers beneath a calendar hanging on the end of a display case, presses a hidden button, and presto a section of the pink-tiled floor rolls away, revealing a subterranean staircase. With the clerk leading the a party of western visit- ors moves behind the counter and starts down the staircase, a steep spiral of 35 steps that emerges at the'bottom into a brightly-lit tunnel. As the last of the visitors reaches the foot of the stairs, the clerk pauses, turns around, and-arawunces: "You are now" eight metres (26 feet) below the surface of Peking" It is a moment of carefully contrived drama, for the tun- nel and the web of others that run off from it are a visitors' showpiece, presented as an example of the thousands of miles of tunnels that have been built in cities through- out China in response to the threat of war with the Soviet Union. In recent months, the war- ren of tunnels beneath the Chinamen clothing store on Peking's teeming Ta Sha Lan street have become a staple of most visitors' tours, but it was not always so. Indeed, for nearly three years after the first digging began in December 1969 the project was shrouded with secrecy, with even high- ranking officials disclaiming any knoweldge of it Large mounds For all that, it took no great feat of sleuthing to figure out what was going on. First there were the huge mounds of loose earth lying along the streets and alley- ways, and later there were the long rows of semi-circular concrete beams that appeared by the roadside all over town. Clearly, the order had gone out for the masses to get tunnelling, and it was not too difficult to guess why. digging began about four months after the last of three serious border clashes with the Russians that erupt- ed that year. Talks on the border dispute had begun in Peking in the late fail, but had quickly bog- ged down in a stalemate that has lasted to this day. As anti-Soviet propaganda reach- ed a new level in the Chinese press, the nation-wide tunnel- ling program began. For chaJdren, the was a godsend, providing end- less scope for new games anad the piles of earth and rows of concrete beams. But for adults, mobilized in their millions, it was obviously no game: to the day's work in an or factory, tfiere were flow several exlo hours of toil added, sometimes UD- b] late at night. Most of the digging took place beyond the view of pass- ers-by, either behind wooden hoardings or inside buildings. Bnt the occasional glimpse the roof of a high building, or through Use open door of a vacant store told the story: teams of men and women working feverishly, f ten with only the crudest im- plements, and through every kind of weather. Little known Until recently, that was about all that was known about the project. Then, late last year, the first groups of foreigners were taken down to Ta Sha Lan, treated to the mystery of the hidden stair- case, and introduced to a sub- terranean world that makes the catacombs of ancient Borne look like child's play. The venue itself is intrigu- ing, for Ta Sha Lan is not much 'more than a narrow lane, albeit perhaps" the most fascinating of the many thou- sand in Peking. Described by one recent visitor as the Bond Street of Peking, it lies just outside the bounds of the old city wall, right in the heart of the old merchant quarter. Once renowned as the cen- tre of the theatre district, it still boasts two cinemas and an opera; and another old theatre, framed by an elabor- ate ironwork facade, has fceen turned into a department store. Some of the stores along the lane are routine: one for children's toys, another for shoes, a third for photograph- ic equipment. But there are still some that retain the spe- cial quality of an earlier age, selling embroidered satin jac- kets, or rare wines, or even whole young goats in jars. Between them, they make Ta Sha Lan into a very crowded lane, with as many as shoppers browsing around its 45 establishmennts at any given moment. Normally, the pace is a leisurely one. But if the offi- cial word is to be credited, a warning signal could send all as well as Uie 1.800 workers in the shops along the lane, pouring down into the tunnels with the last man in and the hatch batten- ed down in less than six min- utes. To reassure the skeptical, officials say that the emer- gency has been rehearsed half a dozen times, and can be repeated at wall. Hidden entry Perhaps it can. Officials say that each of 45 stores has a hidden entrance to the tunnels, with bigger stores having as many as four. They say Ihe pattern is re- peated throughout the city, wilih every factory, school. restaurant, apartment Mode, government office and almasl every shop having its clothing store inside which John Burns was permitted access to a bomb shelter tunnel LETHBRIDGE ELKS LODGE NO. 37 AND THE LETHBRIDGE MINOR HOCKEY ASSN Present their 1st Annual... MIDGET "A" TOURNAMENT Henderson Lake Ice Centre, Lethbridge Easter Weekend FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY APRIL 20, 21, 22 8 TEAMS 15 GAMES ADMISSION PRICES Single Game Adults 75c; Students 50c; Children to 14 25c Save! Buy an All-Day Ticket Good for all 5 Games that day. Come and go as you please! Day Ticket Adults 2.50; Students 1.75; Children to 14 1.00 Tickets available at Doug's Sports, Marcel's Smoke Shop, Lethbridge Elks Club and at the Door Lethbridge will represented by the Provincial Champion Midget Elks Also Teams from if Regina Moose Jaw Calgary if Cold Lake Medcine Hat Cranbrook if Kimberley This Advertisement Sponsored by the Following Civic Minded Business Firms and Individuals: ALBERTA MEAT MARKET 510 6th Ave. S. Phone 327-3492 Bill Crighton, Bob Crighton, Ron Crighton CARBERT HOWE McKEEN Adjusters ltd 1014 3rd Ave. S. Phone 327-5788 Bro. Elks Harold Cotbert and Pat Howe CHARLTON HILL LTD. 1262 2nd Ave. S. Phone 328-3388 Bro. Jim Hill PESI-COIA 2907 2nd Ave. S. COLLEGE CINEMA PARAMOUNT CINEMA Bros. Doug and Bob Shockleford CURRIE'S FOODS LTD. 1519 9th Ave. S. Phone 327-2044 CRESTLINE BUILDERS MARKET LTD. 123 30th St. N. Phone 327-5444 Elk Vince Toth DIETRICH'S TRUCK EQUIPMENT 134 North Mayor Magrath Dr. Phone 328-3254 Hk "Dick" Dietrich FERGUSON PAINT LTD. 318 7th St. S. Phone Phone 327.1310 PARAMOUNT FLEMING MOTORS LTD. "Your Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge Truck Dealer" 7th St. and 1st Ave. S. Phone 327-1591 FORT MACLEOD AUCTION MARKET LTD. "AT THE CROSSROADS OF CANADA'S CATTIE COUNTRY" FRACHE'S FLOWER SHOP 322 5th St. S. Phone 327-5747 0k Johnny Deak GRAHAM JOHNSON UPHOLSTERY 411 3rd Ave. S. Phone 327-3470 Bro. Jerry Johnson HUfclBURT AUCTION SERVICE LTD. 1920 2nd Ave. S. Phone 328-4705 Bros. Keith and Ted Huribu-t KEY REALTY and INSURANCE 1524 9th Ave. S. Phone 328-6671 Howard Ycnosik, Doug Hcnvngr Trevor Hansen, Vem Morgan, H. P. Berger KING CHRYSLER DODGE LTD. 3rd Ave. and llth St. S. Phone 328-9271 Ken Robisen KIRK'S TIRE SALES LTD. Lethbridge Taber Fernie, B.C. Elks Bill and Gary Kirk LES SORENSEN EXCAVATING LTD. 2303 6th Ave. S. Phone 327-8183 LETHBRIDGE AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION LTD. 1520 3rd Ave. S. Phone 327-0910 Elk Bob todwig LOOK MOBILE HOMES 2nd Ave. and 12th St. 'A' S. Phone 327-3744 Bre Jade leek MAJORETTE RESTAURANT 612 3rd Ave. S. Phone 327-7511 Elk Gene Mah NU-MODE HOMES LTD. 1277 3rd Ave. S. Phone 327-1130 ONE HOUR MARTINIZING 1702 Mayor Magrath Drive Westminster Village Bro. Wayne Gehm PURITY BOTTLING (1967) LTD. 2920 9th Ave. N. Phone 328-8891 Jim Kelly RITT WAY HEATING AIR CONDITIONING LTD. 136 N. Mayor Magrath Dr. Phone 328-3172 328-2516 STARLITE MOTEL Ave. and M. M. Drive Phone 327-8515 Ted Berlondo, Denny Kjeldgoard SUPERIOR GULF SERVICE 1804 3rd Ave. S. Phone 327-0313 SCHWARTZ AGENCIES (1972) LTD. College Shopping Mall Phone 328-3331 Elk logon Tart TOMORROW'S FURNITURE LTD. 1254 3rd Ave. S. Phone 328-4133 Hoy Btvmmond VARZARI IRON LTD. 2802 2nd Ave. N. Phone 327-1296 Bro. Bill Vonarl ;