Call us stupid (you wouldn’t be the first person) but we were kind of confused upon reading this Shanghai Daily story:
Two old pillboxes in Changning District will be demolished after they were branded traffic hazards and environmental nuisances.
When we hear the word “pillbox,” we think of Bob Dylan and hats and, well, boxes that you put pills in.
The story didn’t provide a definition of the word, so we looked it up. Turns out a pillbox is a “small, low fortification that houses machine guns and antitank weapons. Similar to a blockhouse, it is usually made of concrete, steel, logs, or filled sandbags.”
Okay, that makes more sense. The Shanghai Daily adds:
The Kuomintang Army built thousands of pillboxes in Shanghai before 1949. Many have been removed and only a few remain in the urban area.
The two offending Changning District pillboxes are located on Yuping Lu and Zunyi Lu and, according to a historian with the Shanghai History Museum, “The pillboxes only show a war took place in the city. They don’t have much value in historical study.”
They also quoted a resident who didn’t want the pillboxes removed, saying they added a “historical atmosphere” to the neighborhood. We found two old photos of Shanghai pillboxes at Virtual Shanghai (here and here) but we are having a hard time picturing what one of these things would look look like today, without all the sandbags. Anyone seen one? Have a photo to share? We also found an old propaganda poster entitled “Sacrificing oneself while blowing up a pillbox.”
We’d like to leave you with the Shanghai Daily‘s rather bizarre conclusion to their story:
In May 2005, police found a naked man inside a pillbox on Caoyang Road in Putuo District.
The 27-year-old told police his clothes had been stolen two days previously and he had sought shelter in the abandoned pillbox.
That’s all they say about the incident. And that’s how the story ends.