Saturday, May 21, 2011

Diary Entry 88: Saigon, Saturday Night, 13 November 1965

                                                                  Saturday Night, 13 November 1965

Last night we had a little excitement which really turned out to be nothing at all.  All the lights in the block suddenly went off and plunged this area [Ham Nghi Boulevard] into darkness.  The police who guard the U.S. Embassy at the end of this block are understandably nervous since last year's bombing.  One of them got a little too nervous and started shooting at shadows.  Well, you never heard more whistles blowing and feet running in your life!  The police set up all sorts of searchlights and closed the street to traffic until power was restored.  The final conclusion by most everyone was that the National Police are just kind of jittery in the darkness.

Being involved in transportation has led most of the charitable organizations to my office or my telephone at one time or another.  On 2 occasions I had to go see General [John] Throckmorton (Deputy Commander, MACV) about transporting supplies for Catholic Relief Society.  The Catholics are the most persistent of the group.  They never give up!  I know all the various relief chairmen well and wish that none of them had my phone number, because they know I'm a pushover.  They talk me into doing things for the "orphans" that most intelligent people wouldn't do.  And I agreed for MACV to arrange transportation of gifts from the US for all the orphans that presents come for.  I have arranged for a genuine Santa Claus to fly into the soccer field at Da Nang by helicopter (after we have pre-stocked 100,000 presents there) and to arrive simultaneously at Qui Nhon by C-123 airplane.  I told friends at both Da Nang and Qui Nhon that I'd be on hand to watch the pass-out of presents, so don't know how that can be explained!

My favorite orphanage is at the village of Thu Duc at the Mission de les Notre Dames which is run by two nuns who have been here for 38 years.  This mission is near Bien Hoa so I can usually drop by to say hellp when we make a trip up that way.  It is the neatest and most disciplined orphanage in Vietnam.  The two sisters are named Reverend Mother St. Joan de Arc (she is French) and Reverend Sister Florida (she is New Zealand).  People who would devote 38 years of their lives to this God-forsaken place are pretty good people.

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