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Saigon Life 1955 – 1965: A Day In The Life …

by Admin and Richard Turner, Contributing Editor
© SaigonKidsAmericanCommunitySchool.Com

A Day in the Life: Saigon 1955 – 1965

The Saigon Kids American Community School website is assembling an archive of stories by people who lived in Saigon between 1955 and 1965.

This is your story.

We need your help.

The structure for the narrative is *A Day in the Life* of the members of the American international community in Saigon and their French, Vietnamese and Chinese friends and acquaintances.

The project will be completed in stages of 1 to 2 months each, ending in one year.Saigon Life 1955-65

The accompanying outline (with suggested topics) is the framework we will use to organize your accounts of life in Saigon.

Many of you have already sent poignant, humorous or thought-provoking recollections to the website.  We will begin the task of creating *A Day in the Life* by plugging these entries into the outline in the appropriate places. The author of each entry will be identified as will the years that the author lived in Saigon, eg. Jane Doe 1961-1963.

These entries and the material you send us will be arranged chronologically in terms of the time of day that it references and by subject matter.  For example all of your stories about afternoons at the Cirque Sportif would be grouped together.

Your contributions to *A Day in the Life* can be fact or fiction.

They can be brief or lengthy.

They can be something you have written or something written by another person, so long as the original author is credited.

We also want your images of life in Saigon to illustrate this history. Scan your photographs, slides, etc. and send them to the website. Identify, as best you can, the people in the photos and the events that they represent. If you have home movies taken while in Saigon that you’d like to transfer to DVD contact us for assistance instructions.

So, send us your stories and your images.

We were participants in a unique period of history.

No one can tell this story better than we can.

Phase One

The first phase of *A Day in the Life* project will focus on — *Before Saigon*. This phase will last for about 2 months during which we invite you to submit your stories about why and how you came to Saigon.

  • What Brought you to Saigon?
  • Where were you when you learned you were going to Saigon?
  • How did you learn you were going to Saigon?
  • What was your initial reaction when you learned you were going to Saigon?
  • What was the reaction of your family members when they learned you were going to Saigon?
  • What was the reaction of your friends when you told them you were going to Saigon?
  • What was the reaction of your teachers and other community members when you told them you were going to Saigon?
  • What was preparing for your trip to Saigon like?
  • What was your trip to Saigon like?
  • What places did you visit en-route to Saigon?
  • What do you remember most about preparing for and traveling to Saigon?
  • How did you feel about moving to Saigon?
  • What feelings did you experience leaving your friends, class mates, family and community members to go to Saigon?

Submission Guidelines:

Submit all stories via the *Contact Form* on the website.

Stories should be submitted as a text document (MS Word, Note Pad, Open Office Writer, etc.).

Please include your name and the time period you were in Saigon. Ladies please include your maiden and married last name.

When submitting longer stories, please submit them as an *Attachment* to your message on the Contact Form by copying the text document with your story to a File Folder on your computer, ZIP (compress) the File Folder and send the File Folder containing your story as an *Attachment*.

Photos and images should be cropped, re-sized to 1000 pixels wide, and submitted in JPEG format.

Photos and images should include information identifying the people in them, location, event and approximate date taken (month and year, or at least the year).

Photos and images should be sent as an *Attachment* to your Contact Form message. When submitting multiple text files, photos/images copy them to a File Folder on your computer, then ZIP (compress) the File Folder and send the ZIP File Folder containing the text files and photos/images as an *Attachment*.

All photos/images must be your own. If they are not your own photos/images you’ll need to submit documentation the owner and/or copyright holder of the photos/images has granted you written permission and license to use them.

Submit your *Before Saigon* stories and photographs by using the
*Contact Form*.

CLICK HERE To Go To CONTACT FORM

Use the Comments form below if you have questions or need additional assistance or guidance.

Saigon Life 1955 -1965: A Day In The Life … Before Saigon

by Admin and Richard Turner, Contributing Editor
© SaigonKidsAmericanCommunitySchool.Com

Below are Saigon Kids stories about our life before Saigon – why, when and how we came to Saigon.


Bob LaysonBob Layson (1959-61)
Journey To Saigon:

April 1959 somewhere over Southeast Asia on a Pam Am flight. Destination Saigon, Vietnam. The flight crew announced over the P.A. system we would be landing in Saigon in about 1 hour. I left the lounge area where I’d been playing cards with one of the stewardess’s. As I settled into my seat my thoughts drifted back over the past few months … Continue Reading HERE

Submit your *Before Saigon* stories and photographs by using the
*Contact Form*.

CLICK HERE To Go To CONTACT FORM

Roy McDonald

Roy McDonald (1959-63)
Worldliness and Twins:

In the late 50’s and early 60’s, the average American family’s worldliness was limited to a 50 mile radius from their home. My brother and I had just started our freshman year at Jeb Stuart High School (a two mile walk from our home in Lake Barcroft, VA) … Continue Reading HERE

Richard Turner

Richard Turner (1959-61)
Slouching Towards Saigon:

In the summer of 1956 my father, Ralph Turner, was sent to Saigon by Michigan State University. He spent three months there developing a guide for the upgrade of the surete crime laboratory which the Vietnamese Bureau of Investigation had inherited from the French … Continue Reading HERE

Submit your *Before Saigon* stories and photographs by using the
*Contact Form*.

CLICK HERE To Go To CONTACT FORM

Kevin Wells

Kevin Well (1959-62)
Culture Schock and Prickly Heat

The whole Saigon experience started in late 1958. My existence centered around going to school, being a feral kid during the summer, and one notable summer, being restricted to the yard with my siblings, the underclass. I was the first born … Continue Reading HERE

Ken Yeager

Ken Yeager (1961-64)
From Juvenile Delinquents To Saigon

My mom, dad, sister and I were living at Fort Rucker, Alabama when dad came home to inform us that he had orders for Vietnam. Like most at that time, we had no idea where Vietnam was and so out came the atlas …Continue Reading HERE

Submit your *Before Saigon* stories and photographs by using the
*Contact Form*.

CLICK HERE To Go To CONTACT FORM


Tom HannaTom Hanna (1960-62)
Walking Into Hell:

We traveled to Saigon in July of 1960. My father was a Lt. Col. in the US Army Ordinance Corp. When he got his orders to be Chief of Ordinance military adviser to the South Vietnamese Army, we were living in Hinsdale, Illinois. He was completing his MBA at the University of … Continue Reading HERE


Bruce Thomas 61Bruce Thomas (1960-61)
Shipping Out to South Vietnam:

In the summer of 1960 my life intersected that of SS President Hoover as we traveled to Saigon. Little did I know that in the space of a year I would board an identical ship, traveling to live in the Canal Zone. … Continue Reading HERE

Submit your *Before Saigon* stories and photographs by using the
*Contact Form*.

CLICK HERE To Go To CONTACT FORM


Suellen OliverSuellen Oliver (1958-60)
The Olivers Head To Saigon:

Dad was expecting “moving orders” and when they finally arrived I think we were all in shock. One quiet evening, Dad and Mom announced that we were moving ….to the former Indochina…to Viet Nam…to Saigon!

I greeted the news with surprise, then dismay and finally, refusal to go. … Continue Reading HERE


Brooks TolandBrooks Toland (1960-62)
14 And Ripe For Adventure:

in 1959, i attended the eighth grade in sherman, texas. had only been there a year, and hadn’t made many friends, though i do remember several awkward social gaffes. while there at perrin afb, dad received notice that he was appointed to be the air attaché to the american ambassador in saigon. … Continue Reading HERE

Submit your *Before Saigon* stories and photographs by using the
*Contact Form*.

CLICK HERE To Go To CONTACT FORM


Jim LouJim Lou (1960-65)
My going to South Viet Nam:

I was born in Paris France in 1951. My father, who was from Shanghai China, was in medical school at the Sorbonne. My mother, who was half Vietnamese and half Chinese, also attended the Sorbonne. My father did his internship in South Dakota. … Continue Reading HERE


Frank StoddardFrank Stoddard (1960-62)
From Benedictine Priests To Saigon Girls:

The year before I went to Saigon, my father placed me in a boarding school run by the Benedictines. That was the year, I was a sophomore, and was I seriously considering becoming a priest. I’m glad I decided to head off to the “Paris of The Orient” instead. Have you ever heard of the Great Imposer? Well, I missed him, he was at the school the year before I got there. … Continue Reading HERE

Submit your *Before Saigon* stories and photographs by using the
*Contact Form*.

CLICK HERE To Go To CONTACT FORM


Gene ( Joe ) Weinbeck -1964Gene (Joe) Weinbeck (1964-65)
Burning Hotel to Saigon Smells:

In the fall of 1963, we were living in Norfolk, VA. My Navy father announced that he’d received orders to a “hot spot” and asked me and Mom to guess where that might be. We couldn’t even come close, and when told it was Vietnam we had to look it up in the atlas. Once we determined that we got to go, too, I was pretty excited. I was a sophomore in high school at the time, and this would be my first trip to a foreign country. I remember my father … Continue Reading HERE


No Photo AvailableClinton (Tony) Doggett (1963-65)
Burning Monks – I was a bit stunned:

I was a fifth-grader in Chevy Chase MD when I learned that we were going overseas again. My dad was a USAID officer, and previously we had lived in Pakistan, Greece, and Italy. I remember my older brother Peppy showing me the Life Magazine pictures of Buddhist monks self-immolating on the streets of Saigon and saying, “This is where we’re going.” I was a bit stunned, … Continue Reading HERE

Submit your *Before Saigon* stories and photographs by using the
*Contact Form*.

CLICK HERE To Go To CONTACT FORM


No Photo AvailableMaile (Miller) Doyle (1961-63)
36 Hours On A MATS Cargo Plane:

My dad was stationed at Fort Monroe, VA when he came home one evening to ask us if we wanted to go to Vietnam. We did not know even on what continent to find it, so Dad got out the Atlas and we looked for it. We had moved so often, that this was just another in a series. As a family we withdrew from friends and became more insular as a means of coping … Continue Reading HERE


Kathy (Connor) Dobronyi August 1963Kathy (Connor) Dobronyi (1963-64)
I Was Sure The Communists Would Get Us:

My father came home with orders for Indonesia after we had been in New Jersey for three years. Time to move. I was devastated to hear that we were going to Indonesia where I was sure the Communists would get us and we all would die. The following week the orders were changed to Saigon, Vietnam.

I was filled with relief! … Continue Reading HERE

Submit your *Before Saigon* stories and photographs by using the
*Contact Form*.

CLICK HERE To Go To CONTACT FORM

SAIGON KIDS MARINE CORPS DAYS IN VIET NAM

Submitted by Frank Stoddard (ACS)

During my time in the Marine Corps I took a Russian History Class by correspondence course, something like what we did it ACS.

I also did a few drawings. I worked long and tiring hours in the USMC and ever since that duty I realize how important just having a drink of water is.

I drew a few pictures of which I thought were long gone and thrown into the garbage.

This week my son found them out in our garage.

It is strange that my Saigon days were so great and happy, yet I spent over 20 mouths in Vietnam with the Marine Corps, longer then I did as a Saigon Kid.

I guess as we get older, all you out their are aging, but I always feel like I’m sixteen when I think and talk to you.

Drawings by Frank Stoddard while in Viet Nam. Circa 1967 Frank Stoddard collection.

Drawings by Frank Stoddard while in Viet Nam. Circa 1967 Frank Stoddard collection. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE.

Drawings by Frank Stoddard while in Viet Nam. Circa 1967 Frank Stoddard collection.

Drawings by Frank Stoddard while in Viet Nam. Circa 1967 Frank Stoddard collection. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE.

Drawings by Frank Stoddard while in Viet Nam. Circa 1967 Frank Stoddard collection.

Drawings by Frank Stoddard while in Viet Nam. Circa 1967 Frank Stoddard collection. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE.

Drawings by Frank Stoddard while in Viet Nam. Circa 1967 Frank Stoddard collection.

Drawings by Frank Stoddard while in Viet Nam. Circa 1967 Frank Stoddard collection. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE.

Drawings by Frank Stoddard while in Viet Nam. Circa 1967 Frank Stoddard collection.

Drawings by Frank Stoddard while in Viet Nam. Circa 1967 Frank Stoddard collection. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE.

“THE QUEST” FOR SAIGON KIDS: THE LEOPPARD FAMILY

Submitted by Karen Hunt (ACS)

I’m hoping I can find out something about the Leoppard family (Manon, Clinton, Renee, and Martine). They were our neighbors and initially moved to Hong Kong like we (my mom, bother, and me) did.

If anyone knows what happened to them or how to contact them, please let me know in the Comments below.

UPDATE

Hi Bob.

I actually found them!!!!

I spoke with Clinton Leoppard Wednesday night and have Manon Leoppard’s phone number now!! I’m planning on contacting her this weekend.

This is so exciting.

Your site has made this all possible!!! Its like finding a missing piece of yourself 🙂

Thank you so much.

Karen Hunt

DEBORAH SPOHR MARTIN WANTS TO CONNECT WITH OTHERS WHO ATTENDED PHOENIX STUDY GROUP

Submitted by Deborah Spohr Martin (ACS and PSG)

I was in Vietnam the 1964 year to 1965. That was when the American school closed and I was very young in 5th or 6th grade.

I remember returning home very animated and announcing to my parents Betty and Hank Spohr that there would be no more school that the school was closing!!

I think the following week my fathers oil company Esso and other private American companies opened the Phoenix School for kids of private companies that remained in Vietnam.

That school turned out to be one of the most idealic schools I had ever attended. It was like a little American one room school house.

My brother Tucker Spohr and sister Kathy Spohr also attended that school.

Our teacher was a Mennonite woman who was very Godly. She taught us so many fun games like rhythm and four square which we often played. She was also and excellent teacher. I think we had two class rooms in that school house.

If there is anyone out there that attended that school I would love to hear from them and reminisce.

EXCHANGING PIASTERS WHEN DEPARTING SAIGON

Submitted by Sandy Hanna (ACS)

I am trying to find out if anyone remembers how the exchange of piasters before returning to the States went.

Our military family was in Saigon 1960 to 1962. My brother Tom said that we were getting 70 piasters to the dollar, but on the black market you could get 90 at that time.

When leaving I wondered if military personnel were able to exchange the piasters to military script or get American green backs.

Does anyone remember?

Admin Note: Sandy, you might find this post about Piasters to U.S. Dollars interesting (click the link and scroll down to read the section about USD to Ps exchanging).

Black Marketing U.S. Dollars To The Communists

CANADIAN IN SAIGON

Submitted by Cary Lite

I’m not within the time frame of this blog but I am happy to share my information of my experience in Saigon in 1973.

I was with my dad, a Canadian Engineer sent there to oversee the construction of 3 medical clinics in Anyang Province. Long Xuyen, Thot Not and Cho Moi.

I have pics and stories to tell. If interested let me know.

We stayed at the Caravelle Hotel and had drinks at the Continental as many did.

Continental Palace Hotel Saigon. Circa 1973. Cary Lite collection. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE.

Continental Palace Hotel Saigon. Circa 1973. Cary Lite collection. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE.

Admin Note: Welcome to the group Cary. All stories and photos are welcome. I’m sure everyone would like yours if you’d like to submit them.