Saturday, January 22, 2011

Diary Entry 11: Saigon, Sunday Night, 20 June 1965

                                                                                    Saigon, Sunday Night, 20 June 1965

            This afternoon I got off from work three hours early, so I took advantage of the time and went to the PX and then window shopping in downtown Saigon along the Street of Flowers (Nguyen Hue).  It is so named because of the number of flower shops along the way.
 The PX is a very large and lovely building, but there is very little merchandise in it.  With the buildup in troops, they shipped part of the stocks to Da Nang and part to Nha Trang, both of which are big centers of activity.  However, I did find a small Sony pocket radio for $8.95. 

The shopping trip downtown was interesting, although I didn’t buy anything.  Some of the local products are:
Original oil paintings on canvas and already framed.  Very good quality.  From $1,000 VN ($8.00 US) to $50,000 VN ($40.00) for something about as big as a bed.

Leathercraft is excellent and cheap.  Shoes are made to order out of the best material.  About $10 for a pair of shoes that would cost $30-$40 in the US.  Luggage, briefcases, etc. are very good.
Tailoring is high quality when you find a respectable place, and they have top quality Hong Kong materials.  A silk and wool men’s suit that would cost $150 in the States comes to about $40.
Ivory objects are a good buy here, some jewelry (mostly silver necklaces, bracelets, and silver rings).  They have no precious stones here, and I’m told the place to buy jewelry is in Bangkok.
Yesterday was a busy day, but not a frantic one like all the others seem to have been.  I’m gradually getting the job under control and am learning more every day.  Yesterday I spent most of the morning in a conference with General Crowley trying to figure out ways to improve the airlift situation, but we didn’t come up with anything special.  We have a lot of problems which will take some time to solve.  Yesterday afternoon I was stuck with a straphanger (local term for short-time visitors) from Washington, Colonel Emmett Scott, TC, who is here to look over our terminal operations at airfields and ports.  I guess next week I will be stuck with escorting him to Nha Trang, Qui Nhon, Da Nang, Quang Ngai, Cam Ranh Bay (our seaports) and aerial ports at Pleiku, Kontum, and Ban Me Thout.  Colonel Scott will be visiting with us a whole week, and I already have taken him out to Tan Son Nhut to look at our operations there.
Last night, Old Harry the Hoss [Brockman] was waiting for me when I got to the Rex to eat.  We had dinner together and then went out on the terrace and listened to the Vietnamese band and singers the club had hired.  We couldn’t go out on the streets last night as the security people had caught a couple of VC terrorists with bombs and they had found out the VC were planning incidents against Americans.  I don’t think they were successful, but heard a rumor today that 2 or 3 [Americans] were kidnapped up on the north edge of the city.  Harry spent the night with me at the Majestic as he couldn’t find another place, and he left early this morning to go back.  He’s going on R&R to Hong Kong next month.
Saw [Major] Stan Blum [former fellow faculty member at CGSC] at the PX this afternoon.  Saw [Major] George Hardesty [former fellow faculty member at CGSC] at at the Rex.  I see a lot of my ex-students.


1 comment:

  1. The PX you mention sounds like it was downtown rather than the larger one in Cholon. Do you remember where the downtown PX was located?