December 2023
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Mary (Timmes) Shanabruch Celebrates 50th Anniversary As A Saigon Kid

50 years ago today, July 7, 1961, my parents and I stepped off the plane into the heat and humidity which is Saigon in the rainy season. I presumed we had all flown into Tan son Nhut, so I was surprised by Brooks Toland recounting of arriving by ship! I don’t know about the rest of you, but we were seated in an AF plane with the seats facing the rear of the aircraft. There was no jet lag since the plane was powered by propellers and crossed time zones, slowly. What an amazing experience the three years turned out to be!! Such good people to share the adventure with!


13 comments to Mary (Timmes) Shanabruch Celebrates 50th Anniversary As A Saigon Kid

  • marie (perry) wright

    Hi Mary…
    Nice to see you here!…
    Right now I am at the airport in Paris on my way to bangkok and then Laos…
    We left Saigon by ship once, sailed to France on the “Laos” ship…wonderful 21 day cruise!….but usually came in by plane to Tan Son Nhut also.
    Where are you??? what are you up to?..
    great memories of those slumber parties at your place in Saigon!!!
    be well, hugs, Marie

  • brooks toland kasson

    hi, mary…
    i may have written incorrectly, but the final leg of our arrival was, indeed, by air force plane. prop version.

    we did leave the US, on the ss. president wilson out of san francisco, under the golden gate bridge. most spectacular for a 14 year old kid . first stop was hawaii, next, the philippines, then yokahama. finally, we spent a week in hong kong, where my parents got properly outfitted for dad’s tour of duty in saigon. we flew from HK to ton son nhut. this took place about a year before your arrival, in 1960.

    brooks toland kasson
    austin tx

  • candice busa

    Hello Mary…..Yes, those slumber parties were fun. Would love to hear from you as to your where abouts and what is going on in your life….I live in New Mexico, have for the past 36 years…I do travel, but I set roots which I attribute to all the traveling when I was young. Candice Busa (Kandi Bush)

    • Mary Timmes Shanabruch

      Candice…Isn’t this incredible to be in touch with good friends from a special time?!
      You were always so fun to be with. I mentioned to Marie, that my husband Ken and I and family have been in Indpls for the past 25 yrs. Ken retired from the Army here so here we stayed. Now that we have grandkids here, well, who would leave?! We have a 2yr old grandson living with us. He keeps me young and makes me old all at the same time!

      My parents went back to Saigon! My mom said that of all the places thay had lived, she never expected to go back to VN. My dad went back in ’67 with the CIA and my mom got back in, in ’69. Saigon had been closed to dependents since Feb ’65. Mom was evacuated three weeks before Saigon fell and dad, got out on the last helicopter off the embassy roof ~ in addition to the shirt on his back, the only thing he had with him was the toothbrush in his shirt pocket. It was a sad time as many VN friends were left behind. They had a house in northern VA, so they went back and dad went back to practicing law. He passed away in ’90. Mom stayed in the house until 2000, then decided to move in with us, here in Indy. We added a main floor master to our house and she was here until ’06 when we had to put her in a nursing home due to Alzheimers; she passed away in ’08, she was 94!

      I’m busy with the grands, and leading the singing at church each weekend.


      • Candice Busa

        Dear Mary,
        I just found this email that you sent back to me in 2011. I thought you never wrote back so finding this email today was a surprise. I did not know that you live in Indianapolis. I am originally from Columbus, Indiana which is right down the road from Indianapolis. Life is still good here in New Mexico. I am retired so travel a lot with my husband or with friends when he needs to work. I visited with Pat Crosby two years ago as she did live in Albuquerque. I have been emailing LuAnna Carpenter and she lives in Charleston. It is fun to find out how everyone is doing. Can you believe that we are in our 70’s! Yikes, doesn’t seem possible. We are heading to Alaska next week hoping to view the aurora borealis. No guarantees! Well, just thought I would say hello since I found this email. Enjoy those grand kids, they do keep you young. Our only grand child is graduating from high school in May so have been attending the last of his high school basketball games. Candice Busa (kandi bush)

  • candice busa

    Hey Brooks, I want to get in touch with your sister Holly. A friend gave me the DVD “Brats” and as I was watching it, Holly was being interviewed…I went wild….then there was a home movie from your fathers archives and there was Holly and I on a boat going down the Mekong!!! Also, showed other girls on the boat…think it was Holly’s birthday. I am sure that you have seen this documentary film narrated by Kris Kristopherson. It is pretty interesting….Mary, I think you are in it too.

    [Note From Admin: Brats DVD’s can be *purchased* or *rented* here: – Bob]

  • brooks toland kasson


    holly’s email is: htoland[@] i’m sure she’d be thrilled to hear from you.

    am coming through NM next month from austin to pagosa… las vegas, taos to NW. i’ve forgotten which town you live in. it’s somewhere around there, isn’t it?


  • candice busa

    Brooks…I live in Miami,NM. We are going to have a family reunion August 8-14th…in Taos, Sarah and Barbara are going to be there. When are you traveling?? Candice

  • brooks toland kasson

    will leave austin early on saturday the 13th. plan to be in las vegas or taos that night (13th) and pagosa the next.
    here’s my email: swimmingbrooks[@] for direct communication.

  • Mary Timmes Shanabruch

    Marie… How great to hear from you!! We did have a lot of fun in Saigon!
    Is your travel for business or pleasure?
    I married into the Army and did some more traveling, Panama Canal Zone, Germany, AZ,
    DC, NC, SC and ended up in Indianapolis. We stayed and have been here 25 yrs. Ken and I have 6 adult children, 5 daus and 1 son. We also have 9 grands. Its a full schedule as we are blessed to have our 5 girls nearby. Our son is in FL.; the grands are all in town. Life is good. Hope all is well with you. Let’s stay in touch.


  • marie (perry) wright

    Hi Mary, Candy and all…
    I have gone to Laos every summer since 2005..returned to Laos the first time in 2000 and loved it again… and then in 2003 went back to Luang Prabang , Laos and took a boat up the Pak Ou river to Nong Kiaw..we then drove to Nam Bac where my older brother Steven was killed and my younger brother badly wounded in 1966…beautiful peaceful valley today…it was very moving..
    We drove on up through northern Laos ( one BUMPY ride!!!) then crossed into China at Boten..went on to Jinghong, Lijiang (gorgeous city….) and Kunming. From there we flew to Hanoi, which we loved…and Halong Bay..then down to Saigon..found our old house, visited it, became friends with the people there!…of course went to the Cercle sportif, and Brodard, the Caravelle…etc…..then we had our passports stolen, and it was everything was closed, even the US embassy…so we drove up to Phan Thiet for a week on the beach…absolutely lovely..couldnt fly as we didnt have passports and Nha Trang was far…Since then, I have returned to Laos since 2005, every summer…I teach, do different projects with schools, and just enjoy being there…It is a lovely city filled with beautiful and painful memories.
    I live outside of DC now..teaching French immersion at the Wash. Int’l school..I have two daughters and 4 grandchildren I love dearly.
    Just went to Luang Prabang this time with my youngest daughter, it was her first time..she fell in love (my oldest daughter has been twice with me already, and my grandsons too…). We are now in Bangkok, on our way to Paris to see my younger brother Alain who works at Unesco…then back to the US…
    Great to see all of you here, dont often come on!
    Candy I know your parents passed away…mine did too..what about you Mary?…
    We were very lucky to have those very special times in Saigon..I think we will never forget it…

    be well, hugs,

    • Mary Timmes Shanabruch

      Marie…your travel sounds amazing! Had you lived in Laos? The closest I’ve gotten to going back to Saigon was reading the novel UP COUNTRY by Nelson DeMille. Do the Vietnameses still speak French? Did the Cerc look the same? Being in Saigon was such a unique experience, I’m glad we all had each other to share it with and friends to look back on that time with, now.

      Take care,

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