April 2024
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“The Eyes of Novick Are Upon U”

Just got wired into the Saigon Kids network. In 1971 I returned to Saigon and was pleasantly surprised to see that the water tower on the back of the school grounds still held the words, “The Eyes of Novick are Upon U”, faded but still there. My mother, Mary Novick, was the school principal from 1957 to 1960 when we left.

I would love to learn the story of who painted the water tower, how you did it and what promted you to do it. I have heard that it was three guys with two holding the legs of the third as he descended over the side to paint the second line while hanging upside down! Incredible feat!

We were in Saigon during the first coup attempt to oust Diem. The coup was on a Sunday. I remember it well because a block away from the Circ Sportiff, two soldiers jumped out form behind a tree, pointed their automatics at us and insisted we sceedadle. We did! Never knew a Fiat mini bus could move so qhick. The next morning the school was closed but becasue my mother was the principal we had to go out and check it out. On the morning of the coup, the “rebels” had set up a 50 caliber machine gun in the corner of the parking lot and emptied a magazine into the from of the school. There were bullet holes everywhere. Fortunately it was a weekend and no one was hurt.

Also, anyone every run accross Orin Hatch. He lived around the corner from us on Fan Ton Jan street, and curiously enough, he lived around the corner form us again in McLean Virginia. Small world.

Years ago I cam accross a neat web site put together by the Saigon class of 1961. Check it out …..


Garr Novick – Class of 1971 International School of Bangkok

9 comments to “The Eyes of Novick Are Upon U”

  • Admin

    Welcome Garr! 🙂

    I remember your mother well.

    Great having you here! Everyone give Garr a BIG WELCOME!

    About the Water Tower decorating … there is an accounting of it located here:

    This is the most common story of it, but there are many others too. It has remained a mystery all these years, and the ‘truth’ may never be found out … unless someone confesses to doing it … which to date nobody has ..

    Be sure to sign up for the Newsletter and to Register on the Photo Gallery … links are located on the Menu (right side of this page).

    Feel free to leave Posts and Comments.

    Again, welcome!


  • frank

    Believe me..It was Kurtz (K.J.) M., Pete S. and Jim C.that were the criminals. Big Bob, Larry Smith and me had too much scotch that night to have helped!!!

  • Admin

    That’s our story and we’re stickin’ to it!! 🙂


  • Garr Novick

    Easily one of the all time great pranks ! Word has it that Kurtz M., Pete S. and Jim C.were the architects. I would love to hear their story of what inspired them. Scotch may have had something to do with it, but I am sure there is more much more….

    I remember the cherry bombs flushed down toilets, the countless times foreign objects were hurled over the unfinished walls seperating the guys and gals rest rooms the dome quasant hut where dances were held… on and on.

    As a foreign service brat, our family lived all over Southeast Asia for over 20 years and the only real indelible track of our travels is the water tower. I would love to hear the story.

    Thanks, Garr Novick

  • Well, I was back in Saigon in March ’07. We lived on Phan Tan Gian ’57-’61. That street has been renamed Dien Bien Phu. Interesting that the Vietnemese Communist Party replaced the name. Phan was one of the original Vietnamese to oppose French hegemony in the mid to late 19th century and paid for his actions with his life. Still, our old house was long gone (house # 123). I did stop an older French gentleman, dressed like Sydney Greenstreet but much thinner – it’s the Bordeaux I think) and inquired in broken French about the neighborhood. He did point out one remaining French colonial villa that has survived 2 or 3 periods of energized urban renewal and after finding it, behind a tire repair shop, I closed my eyes and ears (as well as one can amidst 6 lanes of motorbike traffic) and tried to get a sense of the past. It’s there: the cold, sweet iced coffee served in plastic bags, street vendors and now and then a glimpse of the progeny of Agent Orange – kids with Holloween-forever faces. ‘Cyclo’s driven by chain smoking men well into their 6th decade on Earth. All there. I carried wads of cash (dong) and passed it out to the street urchins as I could. And then that beautiful river. The strong and fast artery of commerce still. There, at a Vietnamese Navy base, 2 derelict ex-Soviet Osa PT boats that probably hadn’t seen salt water for many years.

    There is nothing made in America for sale in Saigon. Try as I could in an expanded box search on foot for 3 hours before the noonday heat drove me into a hole in the wall cafe – I could find nothing. Now to be fair, Proctor & Gamble, Kimberly Clark and Colgate are there – licensed products from local factories. Middle class moms (and dads) learn plenty quick the convenience of Huggies and Pampers.

    A great city, full of vital energy and one way to busy to worry about the past. And everywhere, signs advertising businesses to “Improve your English – get a better job!”


  • Garr Novick

    Where else in the world would you have a pet monkey, tied to a leash and the leash tied to a wire running between two trees. In our case the trees bordered a beautiful outdoor patio. During one of many outdoor cocktail parties on the patio, the monkey discoved a fondness for gin and tonic and would leap from the tree or wire to unsuspecting guests and help himslft to thier drinks.

    I can remeber driving up to Dah Lot to the presidential summer palace for a long weekend. First passing the miles of rubber plantations then climbing into the beautiful mountains with their dense jungle and gorgeous maountain cascades. Occaisionally we would come accross Montenyards with thier crossbows. Incredibly fine instruments.

    Today I live in New Jersey. We go tosupermarket markets. Back then we would go to the central market with lots of litlle old ladies sitting in front of bowls of fruit or dried fish or whatever. Old men and women with black black teeth from years of chewing beatlenut. Just a terrific buzz about the place. I miss it.

  • Admin

    Garr … I still have one of those crossbow guns, given to me by a Montagnard man. Still in working order complete with poison arrows and all. Also, have a sword from a War Lord on the Burma opium trail. Has a beautiful detailed engraved/carved silver handle and sheath. And, a flint lock long rifle as used by the Viet Minh and others in remote parts of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Burma areas (it is along the lines of something like Davy Crocket probably used way back when … lol).


  • Garr Novick

    Crossbows were cool. While in the Peace Corps in cameroun, the preferred weapon for shooting monkeys was a home made flintlock. Curiously, the preferred metal for the barrell, good for preventing explosions on ignition, is the steering column from a Land Rover ! Brought two of these guns home with me on the plane. Had to change airports in London gatwick to Heathrow, which required me to enter and exit England proper. Every try to bring a gun into England? What a morning that was. My brother is now the proud owner of those relects.

  • Garr,
    I think you may have been in class with my younger sister Nancy Jo Reiser. She entered the Navy, served for years as a nurse and ended up married with children in Ohio, USA. Let me know if that rings any bells.
    Monkey, parrots, and all sorts of exotic wildlife. Tiger and elephant hunts…my children and now grand children just have IPods and GameCubes…we had much more human interaction we really played! JR’58-60

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