Today, December 10, is the anniversary of my family’s arrival in Saigon (sorry I missed your inaugural blog post, Bob). It was 1962 and I was 14 years old and thrilled to finally have a “home” again. We had been living a pretty nomadic existence for most of that year – compliments of a coup in Burma which resulted in all “Westerners” being told to “get out of Dodge”. (The coup occurred within 24 hours of our arrival in Rangoon in March…a month later we were officially notified by the Revolutionary Council that our presence in Burma was no longer desirable…by June 23 we were on a plane to Europe and my father was out of a job…..) We spent most of the rest of that year traveling around Europe while my father (an agricultural advisor) waited to hear about a possible new assignment. Turns out the choices were between Eastern Pakistan and Saigon and the scales tipped in favor of Saigon because of…..go figure….the American Community School.
We were enrolled at ACS within 3 days of our arrival – if I remember correctly school hours were from 11:45 to 4:45 (YES!) – and there was no need to work on fitting in. ACHS was a social VORTEX…one toe in the water and you were engulfed!! By the end of the first week I had friends (I’d been home schooled for over a year while on the road so actual teenage friends were AWESOME), a guy had a crush on me (I hadn’t landed in Saigon…it was heaven – with chocolate!!!), there was a party to go to on Friday night, and an invitation to a New Year’s Eve party. We were even invited to go caroling on Christmas Eve – I’ve forgotten what general’s house because there were so many new names to learn. A month later I was so immersed in ACHS activities and clubs that it seemed like I had been there for years!
I soon learned that the ACHS new teenager arrival early warning system was very advanced. It consisted mainly of badgering parents repeatedly for any news of incoming families and the ages and sex of their children – thus the arrival of kids was eagerly anticipated from the time the plane they were on landed at Tan Son Nhut.
December 1962 – a new home and my first Christmas in Saigon with the kids of ’62-’63 – what a gift!