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Burt Asks: Are THE CLOD’s A Secret Underground Organization?

Burt left these Comments after reading “The CLOD Economic Recovery Plan”

[ “Good grief! Brilliant! What a splendid idea!! How can I join the Clods? I don’t remember any such group in my day (1961-1962). Is this a secret underground organization? What are the membership requirements?” ]

After reading Burt’s comment, I realized that most of you are too young to have known or remember The Clod’s. What a shame, as your life would have been so much more enriched if you had had the benefit of Clod association.

Unfortunately, Burt, all Clod’s had (by choice or mandate) departed Saigon by the time of your arrival. So, you missed the boat … so to speak.

No, Burt, the Clod’s were not a secret underground organization. Just the opposite, in fact. The Clod’s were known by everyone within the American, French and Vietnamese communities of Saigon; and, at ACS. You might say the Clod’s were extremely “High Profile” … and, even that might be an understatement. “Icons” and “Idols” might best describe the Clod’s … as they were idolized and looked up too by all the youth of Saigon … particularly, the fair maidens of ACS and the Cercle Sportiff. Any lovely lady who could be seen in the presence of a Clod would be the envy of all the lovely ladies of Saigon. Of course, the Clod attitude and code of conduct dictated a Clod be very selective of which lovely ladies he allowed to be seen with him. (Yes, this was way before the time of women’s lib … when man was king.)

Can you join, Burt; and, what are the membership requirements? Well, the answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no’ … Burt.

As a healthy mentally stable All American male member of ACS you most certainly would be eligible to be Clod. However, (the ‘but factor’ and there is always a ‘but’, isn’t there?! ) you would first have to prove yourself “worthy” to be Clod. You see, Burt, for one to be Clod they must be of extreme literary intellect, non-conformist, anti-communist, eccentric, non-materialistic, ‘beat’ (beatnik, for those of you too young to know the meaning of the term ‘beat’). Also, to be Clod meant being well versed in the Classics’s, Poetry, Zen and Confucianism, as well as, being exceptionally capable of composing, writing and reciting ‘beat’ literature and verse. Along with maintaining a large ‘beat’ vocabulary ( hip, kool, groove, flip, cat, man, hag, clyde, jive, nazz, blow, dig, grease, square, skin, gone, slice, like, endsville, drag, lame, limp, crazy, bread, slide, etc.). Of course, it goes without saying to be Clod required proficiency in ‘beat’ music and ‘rock n roll’ … including playing an instrument (guitar, drums, bongo’s, spoons, washboard, tubs, ba muoi ba bottle chimes … anything you could get a ‘beat’ out of, would do). The ability to safely navigate the streets of Saigon on a motorcycle after savoring 33 bottles of Ba Muoi Ba was a necessity. As well as, be a connoisseur of lovely young ladies and fine coffee concoctions (known today as Espresso). Then the Clod code of conduct requires one to, at all times, display the Clod attitude of superiority over all who are not Clod. Those who are not Clod are known as “Cobnobanacious” … when you understand “the Zen” and essence of “Cobnobanacious” you will be Clod … Burt.

The Clod’s prevailed on the Saigon and ACS social and academic scenes from 1958 through every early 1961, by which time all Clod’s had either left by choice or a mandate of deportation to pursue literary intellect in other communities around the world. For you see, Burt, the parents of the youth of Saigon strongly discourage their children’s association with the Clod’s. Primarily, because of Clod eccentricity and non-conformity, which adults believed was a result of the Clod’s being possessed by the ‘beat’ leading to their unacceptable (by adult standards) behavior and evil ways. Fearing their children would be corrupted by Clod’s, it was rumored the parents of Saigon’s youth pressured (through the U.S. Embassy, in some cases) the employers of Clod parents to remove all Clod’s from Saigon. This eventually lead to some Clod’s leaving by choice, with those who remained being deported in the interest of providing them with better educational opportunities elsewhere, then were available in Saigon.

Below is the only group picture known to exist today of all of the Clod’s.

Clods

(Left to Right) Larry Duthie, Rique Turner, Me, Joe Christensen, Roy McDonald, Paul Christensen and Mike Parker. (More commonly referred to by the lovely young ladies of Saigon as … The Magnificent Seven. )

There were a few other guys who were sometimes Clod, but most of the time Cobnobanacious, such as Frank Stoddard and Larry Smith. We always thought they straddled the fence so they would not be deported as a Clod.

During the Clod reign in Saigon we were known as the leaders, the doers, the initiators, the instigators, and the movers and shakers of the American youth community, both academically and socially. For example we insured, by every means at our disposal, ACS was as ‘unlike’ a Stateside school as possible requiring only minimal classroom time (like 3 hours a day). After all the high school didn’t really have teachers that taught anything. It had ‘adult room monitors’ who you turned your correspondence courses completed lessons and tests in to, and got a new set of lessons to complete. Like, how much time did this take?! So a typical school day was show up at 7:30 a.m. or as soon thereafter as you could make it, turn in your lessons, get new lessons, hang out and socialize with the gang until 11:30 a.m. then split for the day. This allowed ample time for ‘cultural and social studies’, Cercle Sportiff exercise programs (basketball, tennis, swimming, etc.), baseball practice and games, dances, parties, and general socializing around Saigon. Savoring a few Ba Muoi Ba’s along the way, of course. If there was not a party going on someplace, you could always count on Clod’s to get one going at the drop of a hat (or the pop of a bottle cap … ba muoi ba, preferably). Clod’s viewed such activities as “Youth Group” events, to keep Saigon Kids from idly roaming the streets … by providing constructive group activities for them to participate in.

While Clod’s were considered extremely controversial for the times, they did contribute a lot to the school and the social life of Saigon. They conceived and initiated the publication of the first Gecko yearbook in 1959/60, serving in various editorial capacities. They were instrumental in establishing the first ACS Carnival. As well as, the only “Hag Drag” (that’s a ‘beat’ term) ever held at ACS. It was through the initiative and fortitude of Clod’s the Teenagers baseball team was founded (which is another story for another time). They organized many school dances and celebrations … if it involved a party, the Clod’s were on it! They served as Editor-in-Chief of the Gecko, Literary Editors, Art Editors, Chaired the Carnival Committee, the Publicity Committee, served on the Student Councils. Clod’s were everywhere and anywhere instigating and initiating something someplace somewhere, at any given moment in time. Who else was creative enough to search Cho Lon buying up enough fish net to drape the entire interior of the ‘hut’ with fish net and streamers as special effects for a school dance … then provide the music and entertainment for the function … the Clod band ROCKED! The Clod band made many a party rock and a success in Saigon. Then their weekly afternoon Cercle Sportiff Jam Session Tea Dances were always a high spot of the week for Saigon Kids. It’s even been rumored the Clod’s were the first to introduce Vietnam to American Rock N Roll music. It was the ONLY American rock band in Vietnam at the time, and quite possibly the first too.

In essence, Burt, the Clod’s were the “BEAT” (the stimuli and the motivational force) of the American youth community back in those days.

Burt, it is truly unfortunate you didn’t arrive in Saigon earlier, as I’m sure you would have enjoyed Clod life immensely … and, just imagine what it would have been like to be known forevermore as the only Sam Pan Clod in the world!!

Bob

[ Any of you older Saigon Kids who were there during the Clod Era, please feel free to leave you comments below … remember a Clod … share a Clod story … 🙂

25 comments to Burt Asks: Are THE CLOD’s A Secret Underground Organization?

  • Alice Ahlgren Blackburn

    Wow….I’m speechless.

  • Admin

    A very typical effect Clod’s had on lovely ladies, Alice … leaving them … speechless … breathless … hearts racing … under a Clod spell … lol … 🙂

  • Alice Ahlgren Blackburn

    If I remember my movie correctly, more than half of the Magnificent Seven were GUNNED DOWN and only one actually “got the girl”.

  • Admin

    Geezzz Alice … that movie was made YEARSSSSSSSSS after the “Magnificent Seven” Clod’s of Saigon … Hollywood stole the title from the Clod’s … lol … 🙂

    I’ve always suspected Rique had something to do with that …
    http://saigonkidsamericancommunityschool.com/richard-turner-contempt-mandala

    and… it goes without saying Clod ‘Big Bob’ always got the girl … ha ha ha ha … 🙂
    (geezz … I hope Mimi doesn’t see this, I always told her [and the others too *wink*] SHE was the ONLY ONE … dang, I’m busted after 50 years … lol … )

  • Burt Parker

    Hot damn! Wish I could have gotten on site a year earlier… Well, it probably wouldn’t have made any difference as I was such a geek (and still am)..

    Wonderful report; thanx…

    Regards,

    Burt

  • Burt Parker

    OK. Well, here is a thought for all you CLODS…

    How did you manage not to pass the ‘CLOD baton’ to any of us later folks? Uh? Shame on you all…

    Regards,

    Burt

  • The Clods were really a wanna-be-James-Dean “gang” led by Joe Christensen. A very talented Ricky Nelson look-a-like that played and sang the pop songs of that era. There was no “membership” or “initiation” but a group formed with nothing more than common interests. If any pre-requisits existed, it was accidental. Rolled up shirt sleves with a cigarete pack, a motorcycle (preferebly a Motto Guzzi, Vespa or Lambretta) that would take you to the “boonies” on Fridays to get your clock cleaned, and maybe a non-conformist demeanor. Unfortunately, the “gang” fell apart when Joe was involved in an accident where a Vietnamese man was killed. Joe was shipped home the following day to defuse any Vietnamese reaction. Mike Parker was more the Steve McQueen of the group and no one has been able to locate him to-date. I was the late-commer to the “gang”, but Rick Turner, Larry Smith, and Paul Christensen may remember (or dispute) my recollection of the “Clods”. Joe, sadly, passed away prematurely due to cancer.

    Roy

  • Admin

    Ahh, Yes, Roy … James Dean … the original ultimate non-conformist of the era … lol. Some might say ‘bad boy’ or ‘rebel’ … but, non-conformist sounds sooooo much classier 🙂

    True there were no formal “initiation rites”. Our ‘like-mindedness’ and ‘common-interests’ was what bound the gang together (geezz, ‘gang’ sounds so sinster… by today’s standards … lol).

    Actually, it is hard to say exactly what being Clod was, as Clod’s were a little of everything … and into everything and anything, it seemed (most of which is probably best not mentioned here … lol). While there were common interests that bound us all together, each of us were very much our own ‘individual’ into many and varied things … which seemed to add a bit of mystique to the Clod trip.

    One thing for certain is that Clod’s did contribute a lot to ACS and the social scene (when they weren’t ‘rebel rousing’, that is … lol).

    And, being ‘Clod’ was diffently a ‘status symbol’ of that era … 🙂

    [Roy … soooo … tell us, was it the women or the ba muoi ba that always made you show up late … lol … or, was it BOTH??!! … (((EVIL GRIN))) … lol]

    Bob

  • Sarah Rogers

    Those were the days…and I was one of the worshippers of The Clods. Wow, just to be close and assosiated!

  • Admin

    Was ya “Clod Spelled” … Sarah … lol … 🙂

  • Admin

    Burt … GEEKS made awesome Clods!! … as long as they did’t wear socks!!! 🙂

  • Admin

    Ken … as Chairman of the “Search and Find” Committee … the Clods delegate the mission of locating Mike Parker to YOU … Track’em ‘blood hound’ … lol … 🙂

    The only available clue is that it was RUMORED he was last seen playing a double for Steve McQueen on the old TV show “Johnny Yuma – The Rebel” …

    Good luck … if you are not back in 3 days, we’ll send the BIG DOG with the whiskey keg around his neck … ha ha ha ha … 🙂

    Clues:
    Name: Michael Deane Parker (from: Florida and Georgia), Senior ACS 1961
    Brother: Glenn Raymond Parker (from Georgia), Senior ACS 1960

    Clue #2
    Go here
    Clue #3
    Go here
    Clue #4
    Go Here

  • Burt Parker

    Oh my, I challenge you Ken. Who will find him first? You or me?

    Mike Parker, eh? A double for Steve McQueen? Ya right; tell me another story.

    Well, I’ll give it a shot or two. You’re on Ken, let’s get it on…

    We’ll see.

    Regards,

    Burt

    Clues:
    Name: Michael Deane Parker (from: Florida and Georgia), Senior ACS 1961
    Brother: Glenn Raymond Parker (from Georgia), Senior ACS 1960

    Clue #2:
    Go here:
    Clue #3
    Go Here
    Clue #4
    Go Here

  • Dear Bob,

    Georgia forwarded me your paean to The Clods. It was quite amusing. I had no idea that we were held in such high regard!

    One thing that I might add, the name The Clods was chosen as a deliberate response to the name of one of the other groups of teenagers, the Scat Cats, which I believe was led by Larry Smith. We thought that the name “The Clods” was about as far as we could get from what we perceived as the Bobby Rydell/Fabian plastic cool of “Scat Cats”.

    I have a short story “James Dean in Saigon” which might well be subtitled “The True Story of the Clods” that I would like to put on this site. How would I go about doing that? I’ve also got a short video piece “The Poetic Geography of Saigon that I could upload as well.

    Best,

    Richard

  • Admin

    HEY RIQUE!! 🙂

    Really good hearing from you!! Been a longggggg time!!

    Don’t be a stranger now that you’ve found us.

    I’ll send you an email later today with instructions for Posting on the Blog, etc.(Actually, all you have to do is Register then Login … then click on Write Post and it will take you to the Post Text Editor. Works just like an email text editor.) The Video you’ll probably have to send to me, so I can FTP to the server, before we can make it live on the Blog. Unless you have it on a server someplace you can link to it.

    I’m laughing to the point of having tears in my eyes … I’d forgotten about the ‘Scat Cats’ … ahhh the memories … how sweet they are!!

    Again, great having you here Rique! WELCOME!

    Bob

  • Maile Miller Doyle

    OKAY! So, in 1962/1963 West Side Story, the movie, came to Saigon and all the cool guys dyed their socks, shirts and handkerchiefs purple and became instant Sharks!!! The gals who hung around with them were pretty cool, too. Anyone remember that? It was such a phase for a month or so. Not nearly as long lived as the CLODS apparently were.

  • Admin

    Maile… are you sure the movie wasn’t “The One Eyed, One Eared, One Horned, Purple People Eater” … lol … oh that’s right .. that was a song not a movie … ahahhaaa 🙂

    Unfortunately, I was deported in early ’61 so missed out on becoming an ACS Purple Dyed Shark … lol. By 1961/62 when Westside Story hit the box office I’d been committed to a co-educational boarding school in Arizona. Being CLOD I had no interest in seeing some ‘wussy’ musical movie … BUT, the ‘cobnobanacious’ gal I was dating at the time had other ideas … and, ‘drug’ me, against my will to see the movie. Since she was the ‘hottest’ gal at the school (and, the pickin’s are a bit limited at a boarding school) I ‘suffered’ through hours of watching the Clod IDOL “James Dean” gang image being mercilessly destroyed by freaky ‘Scat Cats’ fairy dancing all over the huge screen before my eyes … it was the most horrible sight I’ve ever witnessed in my life … and, personally, I truly believe that is when James Dean rose from the grave, reincarnated as Jimmy Dean and started making sausage … LOL 🙂

    I bet the lovely ladies of ACS were awesome in purple … lavendar is so becoming on girls … but, on guys … umm ‘no comment’ … lol

    So which Rainbow Girls were the Lavendar hue of the rainbow???

    Bob

    PS: Maile … the Clods are ‘forever’ … lol … in fact, there is even a “CLOD Magazine” … still published (once a year) to this day in the UK. Hmm … perhaps I should upload them to the Blog … LOL … brace yourselves people … 🙂

  • Burt Parker

    Clod magazine in UK? Ummm, that would be interesting to see… Any even remote connection to the Saigon Clods?

    Regards,

    Burt

  • frank

    How many of you can say “I got my ass kicked by the Clods”? HA! Quit laughing Roy!!!

  • frank

    Bob, I always wondered what girl belonged to the shoes that are in the picture!!

  • Admin

    Gee, Frank there were always so many girls flocking around the Clods … so, it is really hard to say which one these shoes belonged too … BUT … Sarah did say above “Those were the days…and I was one of the worshippers of The Clods. Wow, just to be close and assosiated!” … Sarah, are those your shoes???!!! … 🙂

    Hmmm … this is sorta like Cinderella … isn’t it?!

    Bob

    PS: Frank, I’ve always wondered what the girl was doing … without her shoes … lol

  • The photograph was taken at Larry Duthie’s house. It may have been his sister Janie’s birthday party. The shoes belonged to Judy Smith. She would take them off when she was dancing.

    I never heard a thing from Mike Parker after he left Saigon. I am, however, forever indebted to him for having introduced me to Bo Diddley. Mike once asked me do to a painting celebrating the glory of rock and roll with Bo Diddley playing his guitar atop a tall column surrounded by the lesser lights of rock and roll on shorter columns. I should have done it.

    Rique

  • Admin

    Rique … never too late to do the Bo Diddley painting … would be awesome!! 🙂

    Bob

    PS: Are you still in touch with Judy Smith, Rique? Also, the links above for Ken and Burt, who are trying to locate Mike and his brother indicate he is still around. Question is exactly where?

  • Well! I haven’t been into this blog in several months, so pardon my lateness to reply to this particular strand of the conversation.

    I knew (while in 10th grade at ACS, 1960-61) that I certainly wasn’t Clod. But neither did I know the true meaning of the distinctively-named category that Ann Fox and I were blessed with on page 64 of the 1961 Gecko, which (from my reading of the above) now assures me that I was definitely not Clod. Gee, I always wondered what it meant to be cobnobanacious, so now I know! I think.

    So, not that I’m looking for being an honorary Clod at this late date, but I can point all you who are Clods at the Steve McQueen-looking Clod whom you seek: Mike Parker. (His father and mine worked together at Tan Son Nhut as FAA advisors to the Vietnamese Directorate of Civil Aviation.) Mike graduated from Auburn University in 1965 (I finished there 2 years later). And according to the alumni directory, he lives with wife Joan in Birmingham, Alabama. Their daughters are named Michele, Nicole, Stephanie, and Jaqueline. I won’t post the exact Parker mailing address or telephone number, but if you email me I’ll be glad to share that info privately.

    War Eagle!
    Bruce

  • Michael Smith

    Although I was a youngster during the Clod, and Scat Cat days, I do remember my oldest Brother Larry, riding their cycles to our compound, (where the commissary/PX was located, going up stair where my mom and dad would then have a party. Those were the days, of course being just a kid, I was always left out of the fun. I would wake up the next morning with a house full of passed out bodies all over the place. There was a Vietmanese guy named Domino that use to ride along with them, later when my Brother Bill was sent back with the 1st Cav. unit, he went looking for Domino and found out that Domino was in an ARVN Prison, he was found to have been a Major in the NVA, one would never have known it.

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