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Those were the days !!!

As Bob has said many times, we all lived in Saigon in various times and therefore we don’t all know everyone that was in the ACS.

How many of you remember the PX and commissary on Phan Dinh Phung Street, # 17, I believe? The Yeager family lived on the third floor (US style counting), south west end and the Smith family on the second floor, north east end. The PX office was on the 2nd floor under our flat and the PX on the ground floor. Commissary was on the south west end and I think the commissary office was also on the 2nd floor, north east end. Post office was located around the back side of the compound and the CG for all military forces lived in a large house on the other side of common wall with the PX-Commissary compound. When Dad retired from the Army and went to work for USOM, we moved to the JDP compound out near the airport. Oh, didn’t Suzie Hunt live on that main street that lead from Saigon proper towards the school and airport?

Brooks Toland lived up the street and Maile Miller not too far away (on the street parallel from Phan Dinh Phung, closer to the Circle Sportiff, I think) as did Fred Bonner (same street as the PX). Anyone remember the Sing-Sing restaurant on Phan Dinh Phung, just about opposite of Fred Bonner’s digs? Little garage restaurant with great garlic steak and pomme frites. The Circle Sportiff was close as well.

Who remembers the collision between Fred Bonner and Larry Smith while trying to catch a fly-ball? Fred was shortstop and Larry left field. Fred was evacuated to Manila for a head injury…Larry seems to come out of the accident OK. My dad drove Fred to the medical clinic, such as it was. That part is a bit fuzzy. Our Chevy station wagon got used as an ambulance several times, once during the bombing of the ball field. Dad had switched his normal seating to chat with a friend when one of the bombs went off, right where he normally sat. Wow…that was a close one.

After Dad retired, we moved out near the school but my mom hated the place as she kept seeing rats in the yard so eventually they (I was in the US at the time) moved to the JDP compound out near the airport. Remember the JDP parties? Steak and beans, but no booze for the kids. And in case you may have forgotten, JDP = Johnson Drake and Piper…they built the Bien Hoa highway.

My little sister Debbie is also a Saigon Kid but she was in just the first and second grade before dependents were evacuated and she and my Mom resettled in Bangkok.

As I look back on my time in Saigon, it did seem like one big party. Can’t say school interested me at all but the evenings were great. Party and then down to the floating restaurant for some grub or perhaps wait outside the PX compound for a Soupe Chinoise wagon to come along. I seem to remember sitting on the curb talking to other kids, just to avoid going home.

When I returned to Saigon after graduating from the Dalat school, most of my 1961-1962 friends were gone and it wasn’t the same after that. My little green Puch motorbike, the Red Honda, and then driving the MiniCooper and my dad’s huge Chevy wagon around town. Great memories, great times and great friends. How could I have been so stupid to lose track of all those wonderful folks that made those years so much fun? But not being the best correspondent and lazy to boot, well, thanks so much to Roy and Bob for their website and trying to bring so many back together even if it’s only on line.

Hugs to all – Ken

10 comments to Those were the days !!!

  • Admin

    GREAT Post Ken!!!

    I remember the Smith Pad very very well … lol … we had many a good time there … parties etc … and Mrs. Smith bailed me out of some tight spots more then once … relating to my to-date “UN-Confessed” deeds … lol …

    Ahhh those were the days … for sure!!

    I’m sure the combination of … Rock N Roll music (it was evil, ya know) … Saigon nights (oh, those sweet parties – and ‘things’ best not mentioned) … Cercle Sportiff visual effects *wink* … and all the lovely ladies … is what led to my downfall (in the eyes of the adult world) into the lifestyle of a teenage ‘play boy’. But, what a BLAST!! I wouldn’t trade Saigon Days (and nights) for all the tea in China!

    Thanks, Ken .. for all the memories .. let’s all rock on… and let the good time roll!! 🙂

    “Saigon Kids are here to stay”

    Bob

  • Admin

    Oh and the JDP Compound … YESSSSSS I made many a trip out there … as was my usual way *blush* chasing skirts .. lol .. seems there were a couple ACS gals living out there that kept drawing me back to JDP compound … lol … how sweet it was … 🙂

  • Randy Seely

    I remember the PX/Commissary compound, too…and the fact the Yeagers and the Smiths lived there. Ken’s post prompted me to start thinking about some more aspects of our ‘young, impressionable’ times in Saigon…so I just thumbed thru my well-thumbed-thru copies of the ’62 and ’63 Geckos, to read the notes from folks. One that really got me laughing…that I’d apparently not taken the time to stop and appreciate from was Michele Laughlin who, in her note, said “…be good and try church once in awhile!” 🙂 Also enjoyed reading some notes from Maile, Alice and her sister Lynn, Arline, Suzy, Ken Yeager, and one strange entry from Bill Wagner saying, in part, “can’t think of much else to say, so get lost!’ Ah, the memories…the laughs!
    Wouldn’t it be terrific if the friendships we all made back in those days were just as strong today? I would genuinely relish the chance to get together with most…no with ALL…the SaigonKids I knew back then — and with those of whom I’ve had the pleasure of ‘meeting’ just thru this blog! We all share an incredible bond that began with just those brief periods we knew each other ‘back when’…and now we can rekindle those old feelings and memories some 4 decades or so later! You’ve done wonders with this site, Bob…I thank you — we ALL thank you! Randy

  • Kevin L. Wells

    People,

    If you want a walk down memory lane, try Google Maps and try to locate your old house.

    I have (but could not figure out how to attach the image here, I will send it to Bob)

    [ click here to see Kevin’s house. After viewing it use the ‘back’ button on your browser to return to the blog. Note: You’ll need Adobe Reader to view it. If you don’t have Adobe Reader installed on your computer, you’ll need to download and install it. It’s free. ]

    For you without good image interpretation skills, from the highest altitude, zoom in to the area containing Saigon (and I don’t care what they call it now), switch to satellite images, (upper right corner) start from a Saigon landmark and “drive” home. I used the ACS site (a tank conveniently parked out front, found by “driving” from the airport. Once I found Ngo Dinh Koi, the next landmark was the rail line crossing Ngo Dinh Koi and there it was.

    I also found the WWII bunker near where “B_______ B_______ton and I salvaged the BAR and the practice bomb.

    The “Cerc” is easy to find.

    Try it, but I have to tell you that doing this is somewhat addictive.

    Kevin Wells

  • Admin

    Kevin … thanks, great comments and idea.

    I received your pdf. I’ll have to ftp it to the server, then link it from here to a open file for folks to view it, etc. I’ll try to get it up tonight … tomorrow at the latest.

    New learning curve for some of you .. BUT try it … you’re gonna like it!!! 🙂

    Bob

  • Admin

    Kevin, doesn’t it kinda tic ya off that they only let you zoom in so far… lol … if they let us zoom in a couple more layers closer we could wave to each other from the back yard …. lol … Probably not a good idea tho, from a privacy stand point.

    Although, a couple years ago while surfing around the net one day, I came upon a mapping site that allowed me to zoom in so close I could count the blades of grass in a lawn … of course temptation got the best of me and I did a bit of ‘snooping’ around town … lol … zooming in on a BBQ over at my Aunt’s house … lol … checked out a few back yard pool parties too … lol … even visited a beach party or two in Hawaii … After playing around for awhile on the site, I thought to myself “and they say Big Brother isn’t watching us” … lol. But, when I returned to the site a few days later … they had ‘locked’ the lower zoom levels … guess I just happened to hit the site, the first day, when there was a bug in the system or something.

    These HiTech toys are sooooo addicting sometimes … lol

    Bob

  • Kevin L. Wells

    All,

    The image obtained of the house on Ngo Dinh Koi is about the resolution of what the Kennedy White House had back during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    I know it sounds corny but: Schazam! What an age we live in!

    Kevin

  • Dallas Blackiston

    Stumbled across this Saigon ACS contact site. I was in the 6th grade at ACS in ’61-62. Lived in the JDP compound (between the golf course and airport)as my Dad worked for both JDP & Capitol Engineerng. Remember the high school softball team well because my dad also coached the Marine Embassy team that won the league Championship game against 3RRU (?)in april. I was the bat boy. Have a picture of the teamed poised in front of the backstop. Remember many of the places downtown but didn’t have the night prowess of the high school group……also in the BSA Troop 1, went camping in Dalat. D.B.

  • shanna

    I was in the 6th grade in 61-62. Which teacher did you have? I can’t remember if we went through three teachers in 5th grade or 6th grade (the last one had been reduced to tears)…I just remember a redhead from NY who came in and took complete control of the class. I can’t remember her name.

  • MASullivan

    5th & 6th grades from 62-64. Upon arrival, spent few weeks at hotel right by the river off of Tu Do (wasn’t Caravel or Continental..maybe The State hotel?) One year in first house until well went dry- maybe Ngo Dinh Koi? around corner from mostly Naval BOQ compound; second home in sidesteet off Cong Ly extnded going out towards airport. Also at entrance to Army BOQ compound, next door to Army family & across street from the backyard of a Vietnamese orphanage/school. We had a dog, 2 ducks, 2 geese & 1 parrot & ducklings on occasion. Dad was private industry worked in downtown on Duong Vho Tanh (sp?)then moved office out to airport. He drove Peugeot station wagon (no a/c, black local license plates). Older (seond brother)had a Puch motorbike & got around more than I did altho we spent lots of time at the Cerc Sportif. No commissary/Px?Movies- we shopped at Central market & alimentations on Tu Do. Favorite restaurants were Brodards,Cheap Charlies, Diamond Restaurant(in Cholon, Danh Kanh
    s). No yearbook to identify teachers…think I had a Mrs. Turcott in 5th grade? Liked her…won a dictionary as best 5th grade speller(woohoo). 6th grade was Mrs. Alyogi(?). Liked her as well. Got bit by mosquitoes sitting in back of class in 6th grade & developed rash/high fever/aching–VERY ill. Went to 7th Day Adventist Hosp where Australian doctor diagnosed Dingue Fever. Classrom was sprayed. No meds for the disease, so doc presccribed home nursing, hope & aspirin. Lucky for me, my Mom was an RN(actually WANC in WWII)& indeed nursed me back to health. Mom saved my life once before…I got Scarlett Fever the end of first grade on our posting to Taiwan @1959. Navy doctor refused to admit me to hospital although one other child was in for same & under an oxygen tent–Mom was steamed at the politics. Said doc didn’t want rumors of an epidemic to start or something. I remember Mom dunking me in ice baths to keep my fever down,in/out of consciousness, the skin on my fingers peeling off, Dad took off work to be with me a few days & a long recuperative summer being in flannel pj’s w/h Mom taking me out to sit in the sun each day. Armed only with St. Joseph’s aspirin & her old nursing books, my Mom saved my life. Guess I have enough antibodies in my system now to combat most anything.

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