Saigon Kids Emporium
July 2017
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Submitted by Les Arbuckle (ACS)

As some of you may know, for the last fourteen years I have been working on a memoir about the eighteen months I spent in Saigon (1963-64) In 2010 I acquired a literary agent and we set about pursuing a publishing deal. After many years and dozens of rejections, we have finally found and signed with a reputable publisher and have begun the process of bringing my manuscript to market.

If all goes as planned, the book will be available in retail stores and online in August of 2017.

My story, in many ways, is your story, too. You may remember things differently, but memory is a fickle thing. I can recall many of the most mundane, ordinary events of this time as clearly as if they happened yesterday, while some of the more dramatic life-changing ones are hazy and undefined in my mind.

I hope my book brings back as many fond memories for you as writing it did for me. The Saigon we knew was a wonderful, sometimes terrifying city, and the Saigon Kids were special people, with a unique and (so far) unacknowledged place in history.

Pre-order Price Reduced 35%

The early Vietnam war years through the eyes of a U.S. military brat: In May of 1962, Naval Chief Petty Officer Bryant Arbuckle flew to Saigon to establish a new Armed Forces Radio Station(AFRS). Next to follow were his wife and three boys, Leslie among them. Saigon Kids is the candid, recondite slice of fourteen-year-old military brat Les Arbuckle’s experience at the American Community School (ACS) during the critical months of the Vietnam War when events would, quite literally, ignite in downtown Saigon. In 1963, Saigon was beautiful, violent, and dirty – and the most exciting place a fourteen-year-old American boy could live. Saigon offered a rich array of activities, and much to the consternation of their parents and teachers, Les and his fellow military brats explored the dangers with reckless abandon running from machine gun fire, watching a Buddhist monk burn to death, visiting brothels late at night or, trading currency on the black market.

Coming of age in the streets of Vietnam War torn Saigon: When Les first arrives in Vietnam, he is a stranger in a strange land, expecting boredom in a country he doesn’t know. But the American social scene is more vibrant than he expected. The American Community School is a blend of kids from all over the globe who arrived in Saigon as the fuse on Saigon was about to ignite. As the ACS students continue their American lifestyle behind barbed wire, Saigon unravels in chaos and destruction. In spite of this ugliness – an ever-present feature of everyday life — Les tells his story of teenage angst with humor and precocity.

Coming of age tale with a twist:The events leading up to the Vietnam War provide an unusual backdrop for this coming-of-age tale with a twist. Saigon Kids will also make a perfect companion to the documentary film (sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts) currently in production. The film chronicles the lives of “military brats” living in Saigon in the volatile years from 1958 to 1964.

About the Author

In the years between his birth in 1949 and his nineteenth birthday, Les lived in Texas, North Carolina, Florida, New Mexico, California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Hawaii and Vietnam as a dependent of the US Navy. His father, Bryant Joseph Arbuckle, was a Chief Journalist who managed the Armed Forces Radio Station in Saigon, Vietnam, from June, 1962 until June, 1964. After a stint with the 50th Army Band at Fort Monroe, Virginia Les attended the Berklee College of Music (BA) and New England Conservatory (MM). He is a professional saxophonist living near Boston, Massachusetts with his wife, Joyce Lucia. He has performed with a variety of musical acts including The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Lou Rawls, Bernadette Peters, The San Diego Symphony Summer Pops Orchestra and The Artie Shaw Orchestra. His recordings for the Audioquest label and he is featured on the recordings of well-known jazz musicians Kenny Barron, Mike Stern, Cecil McBee, John Abercrombie and Victor Lewis.


Submitted by Frank Stoddard (ACS)

Frank got back to me with the Reunion information. The most urgent information is that *Group Discounted Room Rate* will END on April 30th. After that you’ll have to pay the resorts normal rack rates. So MAKE YOUR RESERVATION NOW BEFORE THE GROUP DISCOUNT EXPIRES!!!!


Admin Note: I received an email from Frank asking me to post this message from him on the blog. This is the first I’ve heard about a reunion, so I’ve requested he provide complete information and details. Once he does I’ll update the post.


I realize that everyone has an issue or two. As we get older the issues could be money, looks, desire, or we just do not give a darn. To many of us, Saigon was a very special place. Richard has spent many hours in to preparing for this special reunion. I, myself, am 73. I hope I have many more years, but who knows. My Saigon years were by far my favorite years of my youth. My time in I Corps were my worst. Such irony that Vietnam had so many flavors, both the best and the bad. lol Saigon and my friends there will always stand out. I just do not want to sit around and write or talk about them. I want to see them in Maine in September 2017.



Click the various links in these postings for complete information about the resort the reunion is being held at; and, how to make reservations.


Hello, My Friends,

This note is directed only to our current group of actual and prospective attendees. I have attached a separate note detailing where we stand with members attending, and money. There have been several unfortunate instances of health issues over the past few months that have unavoidably brought our attendance down a bit. Some who attended previous reunions have not responded to this one, and to my knowledge several who have not attended previous reunions will be attending this one. We have a great group of people together who have given of their time and money to come to this not-so-convenient-to-get-to location, which I deeply appreciate. As I have been told when commenting to locals about some expenses incidental to being in this beautiful area, “It is the price of admission.”

The next four months will pass very quickly. I am very such looking forward to seeing all of you in September, and to a fun and rewarding time with you.

If any of you need information or suggestions about travel or anything else related to arriving at your ultimate destination at the Spruce Point Inn, or if you have any questions at all, please feel free to call on me. I will offer what I can. Bear in mind that check-in time at the Inn is 3:00 pm. I am going to try to schedule the Meet and Greet the first evening for 5:00 p.m. or so in an effort to accommodate late afternoon arrivals.

Take care, all.

As of now (April 15), out of a total of 41 people (spouses and friends, and me and Sharon, included)
originally and along the way indicating intention to attend the reunion, two will not be able to attend after all and one is unfortunately now deceased. Of the remaining 38, 2 have neither reserved a room nor paid the Activity Fee, and have not given me an answer as to whether they are really going to attend or not. 6 others have reserved a room but have not paid the fees, and 2 of those are attending for one night only.

For the latter two persons I have suggested a reduced activity fee of $80 each which will cover
participation with us Wednesday evening (boat trip and dinner) and use of the Activity Room. One or two
people not included in the 41 are rumored to have said they are attending, but I have not heard back from them.

Regardless of the size of our group that we end up with, we have a $4000 minimum food and beverage
obligation and a one-time $500 set-up fee for the Meet and Greet and Lobster Bake. As of now, I have
$6800.00 on account from the 29 who have paid the activity fees (including one of the part-timers).
When the remaining 5 full-timers and 1 part-timer pay their fees, we will have an additional $1280.00, for a total of $8080 to fund this reunion.

The Meet and Greet and Lobster Bake combined are expected to be around $120.00 per person. If we
have 33 people attending both those events, the total incurred (assuming my cost estimate is accurate)
will be $3960.00 When individual beverage purchases are considered, I believe we will be over our
minimum obligation, leaving about $3580.00 on account after deducting the set-up fee.

Other costs that form the basis for the Activity Fees are the $20 pp Discretionary Fund (food and
beverages in the activity room plus other incidentals); boat trip at $39 pp; and group dinner at $32 pp.

Based on 33 full-timers and two part-timers, we need a minimum of $3163.00 for these activities, and
$7663.00 for everything. So, we appear to be ahead of budget by about $11.00 pp., assuming all fees
have been paid. Bear in mind that the Inn’s 2017 food prices have not yet been published (the Inn is
technically closed until sometime in May). Those new prices could alter our expectations slightly.
If all or any of the 3 people who have not responded do pay the fees and attend, we will be under budget a little further because shared costs like the boat trip and the set-up fee would be proportionately reduced per person. If we lose any more people to get below the 33 full-timers I am assuming here, we will be very close to the line, or below it. I certainly do not want to raise the fees or cut into any of our events.

The message here is that for budgetary and planning purposes, I need to know where people who have
not totally committed stand. By totally committed, I mean making your reservation and paying the Activity Fee. Even though we appear to be okay based on the 33 I am assuming here (which includes those who have not yet paid the fees), to make this work out optimally we need all of you (and of course, want you!).

Please, those who have not replied to my e-mail requests about whether you are coming or not, do so,
and if you are coming, please make your room reservations and send in your fees ($240 pp). Those of
you who have reserved a room and not paid your Activity Fee, please do so as soon as possible. If there
are special circumstances preventing you from fully committing now, please let me know so I have an
idea of what to expect.

When making reservations, refer to the Saigon Reunion to get our group rate. Note that all rooms in our
bank not taken by the end of this month go back to the Inn. You can probably get a room later, but at the regular higher rate.

Thanks very much, all, and best regards.
Your Concierge, Richard!
Current Mailing Address: 33 Nicholas Court, Portland, Maine 04103

The Maybe Not-So-Last


Of the 38 persons who have signed on so far (including spouses, and/or significant
others, and/or friends or relatives), most have already reserved rooms at the Spruce Point Inn.
Those who have not done so may want to act soon to get the pick of the rooms that remain.
Those who have not signed up, please reconsider by sending me a note saying you will attend,
and by making your room reservation. Every attendee will be an important contributor to the
success of this reunion. I am hoping to have at least 50 in attendance. I have attached the most
current list, with the last estimated fees breakdown included.
Please remember to let me know when you’ve made your reservations, for how many
(with names and relation), and for what room, so I can keep track.

The room reservations deadline is April 30, 2017.
All rooms set aside for us that have not been reserved by that date will go back to the Inn
to be available to the public at large, and will no longer be available at our group rate

I am cautioned by the events manager that food costs could rise slightly from what I
published last year at this time, to the time of the reunion. I believe my earlier tentative guess of
$230.00 per person in total fees may be too conservative, and that $240 per person is more
realistic. I would like to operate accordingly, with any adjustments to be made later.

Though the reunion is still a year off, I urge folks to begin sending in the activity
fees ($240) to avoid a last-minute push to meet our obligations to SPI. Please make your
checks payable to me with the notation “Saigon Kids Maine Reunion”.

Richard C. Henry
33 Nicholas Court, Portland, Maine 04103 (until Nov. 1)
3820 N. River Hills Drive, Tucson, Arizona 85750 (Nov. 1 – April 30)

Please see next page
TRAVEL NOTE (For future reference)
You likely will find that flying in and out of Portland is more expensive than flying in and
out of Boston. The cost difference might be enough to cover a rental car from Boston. There is
excellent hourly bus service non-stop from Boston’s Logan Airport to Portland’s bus terminal via
Concord Coach (roughly $27 per person one way, I believe), but there is no car rental at the
Portland bus terminal. It is a very short cab ride from the terminal to the Portland airport, where
you can rent a car, but there is little or no advantage to renting here rather than in Boston, and
ultimately more costly when bus and cab fares are considered.

Concord does provide bus service to mid-coast Maine, but not to Boothbay. Automobile
is the only convenient way to get to Boothbay Harbor and SPI.

For those traveling by car from Boston, you will need to use your GPS to navigate from
the airport to I-95 North. South of Portland you will want to connect from I-95 to I-295 north and
stay on it until you reach the exit for the Coastal Route, Route 1, north of Freeport, which you
will take to get to Boothbay Harbor and SPI. Two hours by car or bus Boston to Portland, and 1
hour 15 minutes downtown Portland to Boothbay Harbor by car (pretty drive). I-95 north of
Boston is a toll road (about $6.00 to Portland, I believe). I-295 is toll-free.
By car from Portland, access I-295 north to the Coastal Route (Rt. 1) exit.
I do not recommend taking Route 1 from Boston all the way to Portland. It can be a slow
and torturous drive, it is generally not all that interesting or scenic, and most of it is not on the
water. But you may want to take Exit 7 off I-95, near York, ME, to visit the popular Stonewall
Kitchen headquarters store that’s right there at the exit. (You can look it up on line).

Thank you all. I hope everyone has had a great summer, and that you will have a nice
Fall and Winter wherever you are. I look forward to hearing from you.! !!
My best to everyone
Rich Henry


Submitted by Richard and John Turner (ACS)

Hello Saigon Kids™

My brother Richard and I are assembling a book of photographs taken by the Vietnamese photographers who worked for Star Photo, Provence Photo and the other photo kiosks located on Nguyen Hue (Charner Boulevard) sometimes known as Flower Street. We are interested in images of parties and other social events held by members of the American, French, Vietnamese and Chinese communities as well as by members of the diplomatic corps in Saigon between the years 1955 and 1965. These photographs were typically black and white, 2.5” x 5” with serrated edges. They were taken by a Vietnamese photographer who would be hired to cover events such as adult and teenage parties, diplomatic functions, holiday celebrations, tea dances at the Circle Sportif, events at the American Community School, etc. The photographer would usually shoot several rolls of film and they would be ready for viewing and purchase the next day at one of the many the Flower Street kiosks.

If you have any photographs that fit this general description, we would appreciate it if you could scan them (at 300 dpi) and email or *Dropbox* them to me at *folk1 [@]* and *cc turner [@]*

If we get enough photographs (approximately 100 – 150) we will compile them in a Blurb / Shutterfly publication that will be available for viewing and purchase online. The photographs will be accompanied by an essay about the images and the unique time period that they evoke

We hope that you will participate in this project. Without your help it will not happen. If you know someone who may have photographs to contribute to the project, please pass this invitation along to them. Any questions, please contact us at either of the above email addresses.

John and Richard Turner

American Community School 1959-61


by Admin

Hello Saigon Kids™ …

Today is the 9 year anniversary of the launching of this website. WOW! Where did the time go. It seems like just a few months ago that I clicked my mouse publishing the site live on the internet.

I hope all you Saigon Kids™ have enjoyed the site and will continue too for many years into the future.

So join with me in celebrating the 9th anniversary of our site.

As you’ve probably notice I haven’t added very much content to the site over the past year or so. Hence, I thought I’d take this opportunity to fill you in on what’s been going on and plans for the future.

As I’d mentioned 3 or 4 years ago, I was in the process at that time of rearranging my affairs to allow me to spend the rest of my life traveling. I accomplished that about 2 years ago and set off traveling around the USA initially and later abroad. All the while operating my businesses remotely with the help of virtual assistants. Initially, I was doing short trips while working the bugs out of operating remotely. By early to mid 2015 I had everything running smoothly and got down to some serious traveling.

I’ve been able to visit with many friends, associates and relatives along the way over the past couple years.

In mid 2015 I took off on a 240 mile solo hike of the JMT climbing to the highest mountain peak in the USA (click here to read about it).

After returning back home, I continued with the planning and organization of my upcoming old original Silk Road expedition from China to Rome (click here to read about it – scroll down to near bottom of page). Given the current political unrest in many of the areas the original Silk Road crosses through, this is proving to be a challenge obtaining all the necessary travel documents, shipping to resupply points, arranging for escorts for safe passage through  areas of unrest, etc. etc. etc. As of this writing about 60% of the necessary arrangements are complete. It appears it will take about another 6 months to a year before everything is in place and we can take off … finally!

Other things I’ve been busy with are:

  •  Sold 3 of my businesses.
  • Started 2 new businesses.
  • Wrote and published 16 new eBooks.
  • Created and published a video training course consisting of 700+ instructional videos.
  • Traveled to Tokyo, Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal, India, Manali, Netherlands, and London.
  • Recently complete a woodworking project I originally started sourcing the wood for it in the late 1970s in the forests of Cambodia and Thailand. In the near future I’ll post an article about it on the website. It’s a crazy story about how this came to be.

I’ve been involved in a bunch of other stuff too, that I don’t remember at the moment off the top of my head.

So what’s in the future for this website? I’ll be continuing it using virtual assistants to do most of the behind the scenes day-to-day routine work to maintain the site.

I’ll be posting content and articles to the site on a regular basis. Although not as frequently as I did in the past. From launching the site in 2009 through 2015 I personally researched, created, edited and posted 1058 articles to the site. That doesn’t include photos and videos I sourced, edited and posted to the site. Nor, about 200 articles, photos and videos submitted by Saigon Kids™ that I edited and posted to the site. Time wise it takes an average of 2-3 hours to research, source, create, edit and post an article of content to the site … do the math and you’ll realize how much time I’ve invested into the site. And, that doesn’t include the time spent doing the daily maintenance chores to keep the site running and functioning properly. Staggering, isn’t it?!

For the next few months the primary focus will be on completing the *A Day In The Life* project started some time ago. It seemed to have stalled. So Kevin Wells and myself have fired it up again starting with Phase Two (click here for information about it and to submit your story). Hopefully, this time around more of you will get on board and participate by writing and submitting your stories. Once the project is completed it will be compiled into a book. And, maybe even a video.

Additionally, I’ll be posting other relevant content articles to the site here and there.

So my question to you all is, what do you want to see more of in the way of content? Let me know in the Comments Section below.

Until the next time … Happy 9th Anniversary Saigon Kids™. I hope you’ve enjoyed the site so far and will continue to enjoy it for a long time into the future …

Rock Onnnnnnnnnn….


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.

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.

Phase Two

This phase of *A Day in the Life* project will focus on — *Saigon Arrival*. 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.

  • How did you arrive in Saigon – plane or boat?
  • What were your first impressions when Saigon first came into view?
  • What was your and your family’s reaction upon disembarking in Saigon?
  • Who greeted you upon arrival in Saigon?
  • What was your trip to your first living quarters in Saigon like?
  • What sights, sounds, smells, people did you experience while traveling to your temporary quarters?
  • Where did you stay in Saigon until your permanent housing was arranged?
  • What where your first impressions and reaction to your temporary quarters?
  • Who introduced you to the other kids in Saigon?
  • What was your first day in Saigon like?
  • What do you remember most about your first day in Saigon?

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


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?

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


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