February 2024
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Submitted by Tom Jacobs (ACS)

My mother, Jean Jacobs, myself and my sisters Mary, Linda, Patty, Debbie, Theresa, Kathy and Celine left Seattle at the end of 1961 to join my dad in Saigon. My dad, Master Sargent Tom Jacobs, had been transferred to Saigon earlier in the year. He was in the Signal Corp working at MAAG on the communications equipment.

We lived in an apartment building located at 145 Vo Than Street across from a big church and a few blocks from the Ben Thanh Market.

There were many American families living in the apartment building who had children that attended American Community School. So we had lots of friends.

Us kids were in the 1963 GECKO Yearbook. I was in the 3rd grade. My sister Mary was in the 8th grade and good friends with Marie Perry (there are shots of her in the video). The girl walking next to Mary in the 8th grade graduation ws Gen. Westmoreland’s daughter, according to my mom.

My dad loved to take 8mm films, so there are lots of street scenes and shots taken from our balcony.

I hope everyone enjoys the video. It’s a bit long but fun to watch.


Admin Note: This video covers a lot of ground including shots of the Jacobs family doing things around Saigon, many Saigon city street scenes, Mary Jacobs’ ACS 8th Grade Graduation, the Saigon Zoo, TET, American military swimming pool, Cercle Sportif swimming pool, rubber plantation near Saigon, Gen. Westmoreland speaking at the American Community School 4th of July picnic held at Pershing Field ball park, Catholic Church scenes, JDP housing compound and play ground, and much much more … ending with the Jacobs family departing Vietnam at Tan Son Nhut airport and arriving in San Francisco were they traveled on to Seattle.

Saigon Jacobs Family 1961 – 63 Part 1

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Saigon Jacobs Family 1961 – 63 Part 2

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Saigon Jacobs Family 1961 – 63 Part 3

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See how many places you can identify by leaving the video time stamp and description in the Comments section below. For example, what’s the name of the Catholic church near were the Jacobs lived. Whats the name of the *open air* American church. Who recalls the old haunted house and cemetery next to the ball park – what was the name of them? How many places in the video can your relate to and what are your memories about them, etc.

Rock Onnn… Saigon Kids™



  • Daniel Murphy

    Dear Jacobs Family,
    Loved your family film of Saigon, I remember many of the Street scenes and they bring back fond memories.In the second film,41 seconds into the shot down by the river walking towards the playground I believe you are walking by a miniature golf course. Across the street would have been the Majestic Hotel at the “T” intersection of Tu du street formerly known as the Rue Catinat. At the other end of the street would have been a Cercle with the Continental Hotel.Along Tu Du street there would have a book store where you could get Classic comic books,as well as other books and magazines.Could the Church across the street from your apartment been called the Huyen Sy ?When you were at the JDP compound towards the airport did you see a real golf course beyond the barbed wire fence or a concrete guard tower,over looking the compound and the golf course left by the French.? I don’t remember the merri go round but I remember the houses ,built on top,and carport and spare room on the bottom.Do you remeber going to Cholon?That was a Chinese merchant section of Saigon. Oh First Communion.In French Catholic oriented Churches, First Communion comes at 14 as well confirmation.I lived in Fort Peck Montana where we had a part time Priest that followed a French Canadian bishop and that’s the way it was..!!lol I don’t think the French got the Word from Pope Pius the X.
    Oh the boat Resturant wasn’t docked there in 1958 /1959, but a couple were anchored out in the river.The cars were great and varied. The liked the DC 3 taking off at the airport.When your family left Viet-Nam the were two airplanes in the backgrond, a Lockheed Super G Constelaion,tri tail and maybe a Douglas DC-7C. I am guessing you took the 7c,, no round windows when you took the great pic of the Golden Gate Bridge Thanks for the great film.

    Dan Murphy
    Viet Nam 1958-1960

  • Tom Jacobs

    Thanks Dan for your great comments,
    I was pretty young then so I can’t remember lots of these locations. Thanks for the name of the Vietnamese Church “Huyen Sy”. I did a Google earth and there is the church and our old apartment building across the street.
    I also remember the book store on Tu Du street. It seems like it was run by an Indian guy. Also I remember he acted as a money exchange…
    Thanks again for the great comments.
    Tom Jacobs.


    • Marie (Perry) Wright

      Hi Tom,
      I finally was able to watch all three of the movies! Amazing that your Dad took so many…loved seeing all those places that meant so much to us growing up. I remember all of you children so well, especially Mary and Linda, and your Mom and Dad too. Mary and I had such great times together, and I would so love to reconnect with her as we lost touch after she went to Hawaii. Funny seeing me in the pool with her (what pool was that??? ). Mary at graduation is actually next to Mary TImmes, General Timmes’ daughter who was also a good friend.
      Thank you so much for posting all these wonderful memories, please let me know how I can reconnect with Mary!! thank you so much, my best to your whole family, Marie

  • Daniel Murphy

    Dear Tom,, Wow Money exchange, I forgot about that. the book store owner, he had one of the best rates? Did you and your family ever go to Vung Tau? It was a beach town south of Saigon. I knew the town as Cap St. Jacques. The beach had Tidal pools which you could swim in. They were great, Just avoid the jelly fish.The town had many French style building from the 20’s and 30’s. Today it is one giant hotel and town house complex ,
    Have A great Day and thanks for the memories.
    Dan Murphy

  • Tom Jacobs

    Hi Dan,
    I remember once a month my dad would need to change money to pay the rent. We would go to the book store, dad would find a book and stuff cash between the pages, and give it to the Indian guy. He’d disappear in the back room and give my dad the book full of Vietnamese money. Seems pretty shady, but that’s the way it worked..
    . I never made it to Cap St. Jacques, but I remember one day Marie Perry and my sister Mary hopped on a Moped and went there.. No permission, My mom was pissed..
    Lots of memories.. A long time ago..
    Take Care

  • Carolyn Cathey Castelli

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for sharing your family videos. Brings back so many memories. I love that we have this collective memory of those special times. My family was there from 1964-1969…I graduated HS in 1968 and returned to the states for college. My parents and brother stayed one more year for him to graduate HS. My dad was pastor of the International Protestant Church in Saigon on Tran Cao Van; it was taken over after 1975 to be a reeducation center. A friend recently returned and got pictures…the Vietnamese were demolishing and rebuilding much of it this summer. Saw my apt. where I lived via his photos.

    Is there a way to email you?

  • Marie Perry Wright

    Hi Tom
    I have looked for your sister Mary for years!!! She was such a good friend… can you please let me know how I can reconnect with her! Such wonderful memories of her and your family!!!
    Marie Perry Wright

    • Tom Jacobs

      Hi Marie,
      Yes, I remember you and Mary were best friends those days.. She is doing well and likes to go to Montana to visit her grandkids.
      She is pretty much old school, so not much into emails. I will email you her phone number. Maybe you can call her when you get the time.
      Tom Jacobs

  • Gary Gardner

    Nelson Thoresen if you read this please Email.
    On a wild thought as I trying to all asleep I decided to do a search for the bombing of the softball field.
    I googled it and this is the first web page that I have investigated.
    From the post above asking who remembers the haunted house and cemetery by the ball park I do not remember a haunted house. I do remember the cemetery and it will forever be etched in my memory.
    One of the posts on this web site was entered by Nelson Thoresen who posted that I was with him at that bombing. Here is my story.
    We were at the park sitting on the first base line bleachers. Our favorite team had their dugout on the third base side. Those bleachers were facing into the sun and the wind was blowing dust into them. The two of us and some Adventist nurses moved to those bleachers anyway. We were the only ones that moved.
    I was looking at the batter when the first base bleachers exploded. I thought I heard shrapnel buzzing by but I am not positive on that.
    The next thing I saw lots of people walking around with blood on them, people getting them into cars and driving off.
    After a while I realized that the two uf us were the only ones there. We had to walk home which was not that far to Nelson Thoresens house.
    The thing was, we had to walk the road out. This road had that cemetery beside it for quite a distance, at least if felt like a long ways. In addition to that it was dark. Go investigate
    Bill Cosby and weird Harold when they got scared.
    I put some magnets on a couple of 2X4s and went back to the ball park the next day and dragged them around on the ground. I got enough shrapnel pieces to fill small jar. Even though it was daylight after a while being there by myself I talked myself into being really scared and I had to walk that same road by that same cemetery.
    To this day I give any boxes, bags etc on the sidewalk or street a wide distance away or turn around and go the other direction. I also learned to not react to any load noise close by.
    The pool at the circle sportief with the wall separating the shallow and deep end was my home away from home many afternoons and evenings. Anyone remember the huge hairy frenchman that used to teach swimming lessons? He had this long bamboo pole that he used to tap you with to correct something.

  • Brian Harms

    Hi Tom,
    Great movies! I wish you had more.
    My dad was the project manager for Johnson, Drake & Piper, and the houses shown on your movie (part 3 at 6:15) are the ones built for JD&P personnel & their families. I think there where 4 streets. A,B,C & D. Four houses (the bosses) on “A” & about ten on each of the rest (hey, I was 10 back then, so don’t hold me to it!). There WAS a golf club across the street from us and after we left Vietnan a bomb or grenade was set off there. We were there from 1958 to 1960. My dad was Wesley Harms, mom Celia, sister Andrea & younger brother Harrison.
    I went to Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City Dec/Jan of 2017/18 and was overwhelmed by the size & height of the city. It was impossible to find the J,D&P housing compound so its most likely gone as well as the golf club. I did however end up at a huge golf club next to Tan Son Nhut airport but it was not the same one. I can’t remember any names anymore but two do come to mind: my next door neighbor whose last name was Brown and he had a pet bear (we had a monkey named Suzy) and a family that was building a huge catamaran in their back yard that they where planning to sail back to the states and their last name was Pedigrew (I hope it’s spelled correctly).
    Brian Harms.

  • Brian Harms

    A P.S. to my previous posting: it’s Pettigrew! Also did you ever try the monkey brains? It was served in a three inch high stainless steel plate with a hole in the top where the brain was served steamed “in the shell” Yum! -Brian.

  • Dale K Griffith

    Hello Tom,

    Thank you for posting these films, they do bring back almost forgotten memories.

    I was in class with your sister Patricia. If I remember your family correctly, I got bitten by your dog when I went to pet him (I still have the scar). My Mother’s reaction was I got what I deserved for trying to pet a dog when he was sleeping (military families were tough in those days).

    • Tom Jacobs

      Hi Dale,
      Sorry for the slow response.. Did you live in the appartments on Vo-Than st, across from the big vietnamese catholic church?
      We did not have any Dogs since we lived in the apartments, but I do remember seeing dogs in wooden cages in the basement of the building..dinner?
      I do remember a griffith family, my older sister, Linda, class of 67, was friends with a Nancy and Margie Griffith from her class.
      Is that your family?
      I remember they had a monkey on a leash that stayed on the patio. A real mean
      Let me know if anything sounds familure.
      Tom Jacobs

  • I came across this Saigon Kids website and it brought back many memories. I was a Marine Guard at the U.S. Embassy and USOM from 1959 to 1961. I have many fond memories of Saigon and all the wonderful people. I played on the Cerce Sportiff Rugby Team with a lot of French and Vietnamese guys–a great bunch. We traveled to Bangkok and Singapore for games as well as visiting British navy ship teams.
    I came back to Vietnam 2 more times for the war but never got back to Saigon. I was up north around Danang fighting the VC and NVA.
    I hope all the “Saigon Kids” are well and in good spirits.
    Mike StClair estclai1@san.rr.com
    Major USMC Retired

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