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August Moon Dance: Tea House of the August Moon

On August 27, 1960 ACS High School students held our version of the August Moon Festival with our “August Moon Dance” which was held in “The Hut”. The theme of the dance was “Tea House of the August Moon”.

We had no school funding for the dance. So about 10, or so, of us got together and came up with a “plan” … well, I suppose you could say a loosely defined plan … but, actually more of a ‘wing it’ and make it up as we go operation. We needed music. Records would work. But, we wanted ‘live’ music. Enter the “Clod” merry music makers of Saigon … our SKs band made up mainly of Joe on guitar and vocals (think Ricky Nelson), his brother Paul on drums (well snare drum and cymbals would be more accurate, I suppose), and Roy on guitar with others joining in sometimes, such as, Rique on bongos and congo, Bobby on guitar and vocals, Bob on guitar and sometimes “Johnny Red” (or Ba Moui Ba) vocals, and Mike on bongos. This night Joe, Paul and Roy made the music while the rest of us danced the night away with our lovely ladies … except for Frank who just stood there all night looking at our “Tea House Moon” … mumbling something about ‘shine’ … LOL πŸ™‚

The decorate The Hut committee (made up of all of us) spit up into different groups searching Saigon and Cho Lon for ‘things’ to make our Tea House and August Moon out of; and, decorations to dress up The Hut. If you ‘never’ saw the inside of The Hut consider yourself fortunate … LOL

Our idea was to move the stage in The Hut to the middle of the room then make it into a Tea House with a huge August Moon in the middle of the Tea House. Then to decorate with fish nets, streamers and whatever else we could find to give The Hut an ambiance of a Tea House under the August Moon. Easier said then done, we soon learned … LOL

The ‘fish net’ group of 9 or 10 of us set out in Dini and Veny’s father’s “Consulate General” official car (big black Mercedes with the flags on the front fenders). The driver would only allow 2 of us in the front seat … so the rest of us ‘squeshed’ (packed extremely tightly, might be a better term) ourselves into the back seat. None of us had a clue where to buy fish net in Saigon, so Dini instructed the driver to take us to the ‘fish net’ store. (God only knows what was going through the driver’s mind at that point … other then maybe “geez, I’m going to have to wash and dry these ‘white’ seat covers before I pick up Mr. Haznam”.) It turns out that he doesn’t really know of any ‘fish net stores’ in Saigon. So, first takes us to the Saigon Market. Parks in front (diplomatic cars have privileges) as we all bail out and enter the market. Where we proceed to get somewhat ‘lost’ in the maze of ‘ally ways and stalls’ … but, eventually find our way through the market and back out … but, no fish net to be found. We repack the car. (If you could have only seen the look on the driver’s face … I think he was fearful of loosing his job at this point.)

Next he takes us to a small fishing village down some dirt road on the outskirts of Saigon … somewhere. We didn’t have a clue where we were. But, nobody there was willing to part with ‘fish nets’. The driver talked with some people there … then set off for Cho Lon. Where he said they sold fish net (according to the people at the fishing village).

Next stop Cho Lon market. Once again we pile out of the car and into the market we go … deeper and deeper into the passageways we go … looking for, but not finding fish net. Then suddenly off to the left at the far end of an ally way we see it … FISH NETS galore! We head in the direction of the ‘fish net merchants’ … when we get to the end of the passage way we find ourselves in the middle of miles and miles and miles of … fish nets. They are everywhere … wall to wall … floor to ceiling … nothing but ‘fish nets’. Every kind, shape, style, weave, etc. of fish net you can imagine. It’s ALL there. Then comes the questions: What kind of fish net to buy and HOW MUCH do we need? We search through stall after stall and pile after pile of fish nets until we find a nice light duty small weave fish net (geez some of the nets where made out of ROPE, you could have caught a whale in them). So, we ask the merchant what’s the price? The lady replies with “how much net you buy?” Geez, what a question! Who had taken the time to figure that out! So, we say the logical thing “enough to decorate a quonset hut” … yes, we got the ‘duh’ look (as she was probably thinking “like I’m supposed to know what the heck a quonset hut is and how much net it takes to decorate one … these Americans are crazy” … LOL). Then we got into a discussion amongst us about how much dang fish net we needed … are we going to use it just on the “Tea House” or do the entire inside of The Hut with it, etc. Mean while a ‘crowd’ is gathering around us to see what is going on. And, they are all chattering away in Chinese or Viet-namese … LOL. Finally, we came up with a number of ‘feet’ we needed (the rolls of net were about 10 feet wide). But, they sold it in ‘metres’ … so we figured a metre was about the same as a ‘yard’. What the heck … yard … metre … it’s all the same thing, isn’t it?! As I recall, we told the lady we’d need something like 10 or 15 metres. Then the ‘price haggle’ began. I think the word spread through the market like wild fire as soon as we got out of the car … “they arrived in a diplomatic limo … increase your prices” … LOL. After much ‘haggling’ we finally agreed on a price. By this time it had become a ‘community event’ in the market with everyone in the crowd that had gather taking part in the ‘haggling’ session. We probably ended up paying 10 times what we should have, but hey, we had ‘fish net’ … boy, oh boy did we have fish net. We didn’t realize until they started unrolling and measuring out the net … how much … we had actually bought. There it was … the HUGE pile of fish net, right there in the middle of the floor … ALL ours!

Next problem: How are we going to get this to the car? We’ll just carry it out there. 3 or 4 of us guys tried to pick up the pile. Don’t work! Than appears some guys with wooden platforms with wheels – dollies. Hmmm? Look at those BIG SMILES on their faces (and $$$ signs in their eyes). We all agreed we were not going to pay them to tote the fish net to the car. Then someone got an idea – lets roll the net like a carpet, then it will be easy for us to carry out of here. So, we unfold the pile spreading it out as we go, then roll it into a roll of fish net. Meanwhile the guys with the dollies just stood there grinning and snickering, as the rest of the crowd all chattered away … also, grinning, laughing and snickering among themselves. LOL. We finally get it all rolled up … no easy feat … have you ever tried to ‘roll’ fish net?!. Then 5 0r 6 of us guys pick up the roll, hoisting it up onto our shoulders (as we grinned at the guys with the dollies – standing there). We start walking back the way we came. We did okay until we got a couple turns through the alley ways … then, it hit us … “where is the door out of here” … we had been looking so hard for fish net, we’d forgot to pay much attention to where we where going when we entered the market searching around for fish net (or how to get back out of the place). We wander this way, and that way … down this alley way … up this isle … oops dead end. We asked directions from the vendors … they’d point us in a direction. Off we’d go down that way … all the while the guys with the dollies following along behind us (I think it was a plot to keep us going in circles until they wore us down and we gave up … agreeing to pay the guys with the dollies to show us the way out … lol ). Than finally we turned down an alley way and saw “daylight” dead ahead … the exit we hoped! But, was this the way we came in, and where the car would be waiting for us?! Only one way to find out … off we went following the light … luckily it was the same door we came in (maybe it was the only door … who knows … lol). Then as we emerge from the market with our ‘fish net’ the driver sees us … the look on his face (and no camera with us) … of near terror. He started carrying on about something with Dini and Veny … something to do with “how in the heck do you think this is going to fit in the car?!” He mentioned something about the weight of the ‘fish net’ plus all us kids was too much for the car. The springs might break. He’d get fired. On and on. But finally opened the trunk of the car … shaking his head as we ‘stuffed’ (and I do mean stuffed) the trunk to the limits with fish net. Then packed ourselves into the car … as Dini said to the driver, “Take us to the school”. Slowly, very slowly he drove us and our fish net to the school. I think I actually felt the car drag bottom several times as it was riding ‘low’ with all the weight of us kids plus our fish net.

Finally, we arrive at the school. The driver parks in front by the office. Hmm?! Nobody thought about how The Hut is near the back of the school. The driver started going into another fit at this point because he was late picking up Mr. Haznam. It was apparent he was very upset with us, but he couldn’t really express, what I’m sure he would like to express – to the daughters of “his BOSS” … He even helped us unload the fish net from the trunk. He couldn’t get it out of the trunk fast enough. Then he sped off like a race car driver. I bet he had a few Ba Moui Ba’s that night! LOL πŸ™‚ (By the way, he didn’t get fired – but, Dini and Veny did get a bit of a talking too from their father, I learned later.)

So there we were with our roll of fish net in the front parking area of the school when it started to RAIN. We quickly dragged the fish net roll into the ‘open sided’ hallway just as the wind picked up blowing the rain into the hallway. Our load just got heavier – wet fish net. Someone had gone on back to The Hut to open it up for our arrival with the fish net. We were saved! They returned with some other guys that were hanging out in The Hut. We rapidly talked them into carrying the WET fish net roll back to The Hut. Actually, they drug it most of the way … LOL.

After a Ba Moui Ba break and a trip to the Circle Sportiff we all returned later to The Hut to get into some serious decorating. Over the next couple of days we made our Tea House … and created, over a portable black board mounted on the stage (Tea House), what was undoubtedly the UGLIEST “August Moon” ever made in the history of mankind. Frank was in charge of the “Moon Making” project, which probably explains why he stood (all through the dance) just looking at the ugliest moon ever created mumbling something about ‘shine’ … LOL πŸ™‚

We did encounter a few other minor set backs during the decorating of The Hut, such as … how to attach and hang fish net to a “metal” building. Can’t use nails or screws or it will cause the building to ‘leak’ (more then it already did), can’t use tape – wet fish net is just way too heavy for tape to hold it up there … we tried bending paper clips into hooks and inserting one end between the metal sheeting and hooking the over end into the net … didn’t work … net too heavy and bent the paper clip hooks straight … as net fell to the floor. Finally, we decide to use it all on the “Tea House”. So we gave it to Frank to drape all over the “Tea House” … which now looked more like a “Fish House” [Someone suggested calling it “Frank’s Moon Fish House” … LOL ]

About this time some other kids showed up with some colored paper streamers they had scored someplace. So we strung them all around The Hut. Adding a touch of color to the dingy corroded rusting grey metal walls and ceiling of The Hut. We never could figure out what the white fuzzy stuff was that grew on the inside walls of The Hut.

Finally, the big night came. We all got dressed up in our Sunday best, picked up our dates … except Frank who was too fixated on the “Moon” and forgot to ask a girl to the dance (but he did bring his close friend Johnny Red who enhanced the festivities greatly) … LOL … and rocked The Hut to the best Rock N Roll music in Saigon as Joe, Paul and Roy played tune after tune of that ole’ time Rock N Roll music.

Frank and I searched through our picture archives and found a few pictures taken during our August Moon Dance. [Does anyone else have any pictures from the dance? If so send them to me so we can make an album in our Photo Gallery.]

Here are the few we found …

Bob smoking a Bastos cigarette (it’s a Clod thing … lol) while twirling a happy smiling Cheryl (his date) around the dance floor.

Bob (after a visit with Frank and Johnny Red) twirling Dini (the other girl) around the dance floor.

Bob (after another visit from Johnny Red) sitting one out with Cheryl, as she gives Dini “The Look” … lol *[notice the ‘white fuzzy’ stuff growing on the wall of The Hut behind us]

Bob (after introducing Paul to Johnny Red) and Dini stealing the show as Dini gives Cheryl “The Look”. [ Joe on left, Roy on right, both watching the Moon where … Paul’s behind the Moon with Frank and Johnny Red … lol ]

Bob (after another visit with Johnny Red, Frank and Paul) showing Frank how to “croon” the lovely ladies after spending more time dancing with “the other girl” then the girl he brought to the dance as “his date” … lol

Who else has memories to share of our “August Moon Dance” ?

As always, you’re welcome to leave your comments below.

Bob

Additional Pictures

“The Clod” band of merry music makers of Saigon. Joe on left, Roy on right and Paul in the corner.

6 comments to August Moon Dance: Tea House of the August Moon

  • Frank

    Bob, Often I remember a date and not the dance…but “The Tea House of The August Moon, I have to admit, I remember the party, but not the date. I guess the song “when my blue moon turns to gold again” was going through my mind. Great pics!
    Frank

    • Admin

      Frank, perhaps the ‘party’ was better then your ‘date’ … LOL ((SMIRK)) … that is “IF” you had a date!! … ha ha ha

      Why do these song words come to mind, Frank, “… I went to a party the other night … everybody went stag … I said over and over and over again … la la la la … ”

      πŸ™‚
      Bob

  • Richard Turner

    Great story. I enjoyed all of the detail. Would this have been the occasion at which Paul Christensen recited his poem Radiation’s Coming as part of Joe and the Gents’ performance?

    • Richard – Might have been, but my memory is *fuzzy* on Radiation’s Coming. I don’t remember him reciting it – BUT there is a lot I don’t remember about that night, thanks to Frank and *Johnny Red* … LOL – πŸ™‚

      Does anyone else recall anything else about the Moon Dance night???

  • frank

    The moon was a round one of the basketball hoops. Paper with a light inside. I think Sarah B. did the work on that! I am quite sure that the school officials, that year, only allowed us to have that one function. I am not sure why. We were also left on our own to get uniforms for our ball team. I very much remember, where we were not even allowed to have a cake sale to raise money for the uniforms.
    I have a vague memory of Paul doing that! I know he did it, but whether it was at that dance or not, I could not say. I think I was drinking Johnny Walker as fast as I could that night…O.K. bad joke..hope no one gets it!!!

    AND the photos really seem like yesterday! I must admit, I get tears looking at them. Robert, that was one of those times we, who were there, will always remember!

    Frank

    By the way, I ordered the CD “High School USA”. It arrived today. It is rather repetitious…Tommy Facenda… with 30 takes. Sorry Bob, no Hawaii, Arizona or Saigon!

  • wonderful story although I was to young to be at the dance I do remember Cheryl going. Lots of wonderful Memories.

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