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Deja Vu: Vietnam Part 11 (Saigon Central City)


We continue with Part 11 of the 16 part series Deja Vu: Vietnam. The series of videos is made using Google Earth to focus in on various parts of Saigon and surrounding areas of Vietnam. Then overlaid with video footage filmed in 2007 with ‘fade backs’ of videos and photos going back to various time points in prior years. Some all the way back to 1882 Saigon.

Now in Part 11 we’ll continue our visit around the central city area of Saigon visiting Tu Do Street, Majestic Hotel, Maxum’s, Crazy Bar, Brodard’s and various other views of Tu Do Street (1920s to 2007). Then with each of the following parts of the series we’ll be travelling around the central city area of Saigon and Cholon. Then travel to areas outside of Saigon and back to Tan Son Nhut Airport for departure from Vietnam.

Each of us lived in Saigon at different times during the years from the mid-1950’s to 1975. Because of the span of time we lived in Saigon, different parts of the series will mean more to each of us … but, they will all trigger memories and experiences of your time in Saigon.

(Note: If you pause the video at 9:05 into it you can see the ‘tailor shop’ where we had the first ACS Baseball Team uniforms made in May 1959. From Brodard’s it is the 5th shop back to the right. The shop with the brown front just to the left of the shop with the green front. You can see it again at 9:23 into the video in the 1968 view of Tu Do. It is the shop with the light blue front. )

Enjoy …


A Born To Wander Production

What are your memories of Tu Do Street?

I had planned to have an article ready about how the baseball team came into being and the first uniforms, but have not had time to write it. So, I’ll post it at a later date as a separate article.

As always, you are welcome to leave your comments below.

Bob

If you missed the previous parts of the series, you can view them here:

Deja Vu: Vietnam series Archives

9 comments to Deja Vu: Vietnam Part 11 (Saigon Central City)

  • Ken

    My recollections of Tu Do street are from 1962-63 and then again in 1964. I recall that motorbikes were not permitted on the street, at least not pass the parliament building and the same for taxis except to drop of passengers. I guess it was Brodards where we used to eat noodles with garlic and butter. “Bird watching” was the thing, sitting on the sidewalk drinking a coke or a beer and watching the pretty Vietnamese girls walk by in their colorful local dresses (I won’t even try to spell the name). There was a grocery store on one corner on the left side, as one headed to the river and I think the family of Vickie Greenamyer’s boyfriend were the owners (if I got that wrong, please don’t be angry with me, Vickie). I also recall the weight-lifting gym that was the workout place of a friend of Larry Smith who was Mr. Viet-Nam in weight lifting…I thing he drove an old BMW motorcycle.
    Tu Do street was a pleasant place to be walk, what with all of the trees along the side and less traffic than many streets in the city. When I returned to Viet-Nam during the war as a GI, many of the bars had grilled their large opening to prevent grenades being thrown inside (same in Phnom Penh) which was a good idea. Once could still enjoy the views and cool breeze but not have to eat shrapnel. I also remember a very nice Chinese restaurant that was on the same street as the grocery store above. My folks like to go there for deep fried crab claws…..
    I remember frequently going to the floating restaurant after a party with a bunch of kids. My memories are of good but very inexpensive food. I also remember having an argument with a girl there and throwing a pearl ring into the river because she wouldn’t go stead with me (shamefully, I don’t remember who she was either…..Keep your comments to yourself, Bob).
    What a great place Saigon was to grow up in, especially as a teen….all those temptations but reason prevailed – for me cause I knew my Dad would beat me black and blue if I were to succumb. I remember Lance Langen trying to lead me a stray one night but that’s a story for over a beer when the kids are in bed, or should I say grand kids…..

    Hugs to all and be safe……Ken

    • Donald Ruhl

      Ken – you had a post to the American Community School site in 2008 and you mentioned Lance Langen. What can you tell me about him – I knew a Lance Langen in Vista CA some years prior to your days in Saigon in the early 60’s – his dad was in Marine Corp stationed at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside CA. Lance and I were pretty good friends then like so many of the kids who’s parents were stationed there – one day they were gone, transferred to a new assignment somewhere. Just going through some things and thought I would try to find Lance if I could – Thanks – Don

      • Kenneth R. Yeager

        Don, can’t swear to it but I think your Lance and mine are two different people. To the best of my knowledge, SK Lance’s dad was a civilian at the US Embassy in Saigon during my time. According my yearbook, he was from Wheaton, MD. Lance graduated from ACS in 1962 so he would be about 70 years old now (again guessing). He had a sister named Jean Ann Langen who was about 3 years younger then he. More I can’t say.

      • Don, I’ll second Ken’s message, and not just because our Saigon Kid Lance’s last name is spelled without the “e” that you typed — he’s Lance Langan. If you can wrangle access to the 1961 yearbook stored on this website, he’s shown as a junior there (I can’t imbed his picture in this comment or I would). And in the telephone directory for US government agencies in Saigon (dated 10/15/60) his father is shown as Eugene Langan, working for the US Operations Mission (USOM) as a civilian.

        Good luck in the search for your Lance … you’ll find him one day, and you’ll be glad you persevered!

        Lance Langan 1961
        [Lance Langan 1961 Gecko Yearbook photo — Admin]

      • Don, the World Wide Web is vast, but Google helps to find info. I’ve come across a narrative that says that “our” Lance pictured above is very likely “your” Lance. His father, Eugene Francis Langan, joined the Marine Corps after Pearl Harbor. By 1960-61 and the posting of the Langan family to Saigon, Lance’s father seems to have been connected with the CIA. There is copious detail about the Langan family (and especially the youngest son, Peter) in the book “In Bad Company: America’s Terrorist Underground” by Mark S. Hamm. Lengthy excerpts can be found online by Clicking Here.

        I still haven’t tracked down Lance’s current whereabouts. The final mention of Lance in Mark Hamm’s book has the family reeling after the father’s fatal heart attack in 1967, and Lance joining the Army and going off to Vietnam.

      • One last update from me, Don. I’ve found two yearbooks (for ’63 and ’65) for Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, MO, that show pictures of Lance. He’s listed as Frederick Lance McG. Langan (his mother’s family name was McGregor). Wentworth was both a high school and junior college. Lance was one year ahead of me in high school in Saigon, so all things being equal he should have graduated high school in 1962. I was born in 1945, so I think Lance would have been born in 1944. Tonight, I’ve found that the Social Security Death Index shows a Lance Langan, born 6 Nov 1944, as dying on 30 May 2005 at age 60.

  • Admin

    Ken, I think the Grocery Store you are referring to was: Thai Thach, 58 Tu Do (Catinat). Used by many Americans, English speaking manager; good variety imported canned goods; cheeses, wines, bread, Colmans mustard, Kraft cheese in jars; U.S. Swiss – 130 piastres a kilo, French butter – 60 piastres a 1/4 kilo; local meats. In the video it would be located across the street from the Crazy Bar and a little toward the river.

    Yes, there was a Gym … it was located upstairs just a couple doors up the street(going away from the river) from the tailor shop. Our Vietnamese friend you are referring to was Mr. Saigon (1959/61 time frame) there is a picture of him on his motorcycle located here (picture number 5 on the slide show
    http://www.saigonkids.com/the_kids.html
    his name has been on the tip of my tounge for months now, but I have yet to recall his name. I’m thinking he went by the name “Domino” … hmm?!

    The restaurant near the grocery store you are thinking of could have been “Evening in Bombay” at 39 Tu Do. They served highly seasoned authentic ethnic dishes and were known for good service. Americans ate there a lot.

    Yes, how very true … Saigon was a very wonderful place to spend my mid to late teens … particularly since in 1959-61 the war and fighting, etc. had not really started … Saigon was still the ‘Paris of the Orient’ at that time. So many wonderful and very special memories of all the wonderful and special people and beautiful places … 🙂

    Ahhhh … the ‘temptations’ … lol … how sweet they were … lol … while I feared what I would face if my Dad found out about my ‘adventures’ … many times temptation got the better of me … lol … (hang my head in shame) … lol

    Hmm … Ken, I guess you were not into ‘recycling’ back then … referring to the ‘ring in the river’ … ha ha ha … 🙂

    Great post Ken … thanks for sharing 🙂

    Anyone else have some stories to share???

    Bob

  • Ken

    Domino..yes, I think that was the name he went by as I recall. Do you recall the Diplomat club or at least that is what I think it was alled. On LeLoi street? My parents went there and for some large events, I got to go as well. Tried to play the drums on occasion but mangled the mustic to no end.

    The videos bring back to many memories and most of them are great. And you know, we never appreciaated our youth until we are old and grey. Ain’t life a bitch? Ken

  • Admin

    Ken … I don’t recall the Diplomat Club … but, I seem to recall there was a place on Le Loi that my parents went to also … maybe that was it … lol … Its funny how some memories are so vivid, yet others are fuzzy … isn’t it?!

    Anybody else remember the Diplomat Club???

    Yes, it seems with age comes the wisdom of appreciation … of by-gone days … 🙂

    Bob

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