April 2024
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True Confessions: Saigon Kid’s True Adventure Stories (Chapter 1)

Remember how when you were a kid and they used to have magazine racks in the stores … drug store, grocery store, etc.? The racks were loaded with “True Confessions of ________” type magazines and tabloids filled with intriguing, sometimes outrageous, stories of people’s confessions to allegedly ‘true’ adventures. You could stand at the magazine rack for hours (or until the  store staff asked you to leave) thumbing  through the mags reading these wild True Confession stories of adventures in far away places.

At the suggestion of a Saigon Kid (who’s name is being withheld in the event the statue of limitations have not run out for capital offenses), we are starting our very own Saigon Kids “True Confessions” section on the Blog. Here you’ll be able to confess your “true Saigon adventure stories”. Real names may  be withheld and/or aliases used to protect the guilty  or the innocent, as the case may be. Or, you can use real names. Whatever you feel more comfortable doing … as long as you ‘confess’ your adventures of Saigon.

Come on, we all know the stories are out there and you know you have one … or two … or more to tell … so share them with everyone by CONFESSING them in the Comments section below!

To start things off, here is one that was sent to me recently.

” … Why is it that so far, none of the postings begins with “Me along with this other fool….”  Come on, I know there were stupid/dangerous/outrageous things going on.  I have a couple myself.  Like hailing a taxi with B____ B_____ton while holding the receiver of a old Browning Automatic Rifle and standing by a practice bomb casing we had discovered and salvaged.  Having good common sense that we admittedly lacked, drivers would not stop until we fooled them by hiding the bomb in a ditch.  Even then, it took a certain je ne sait quoi to get it in the taxi and home, where the real trouble started.” … signed: The Other Fool

Okay who’s next?! Come on gang lets hear your “Saigon Kid’s True Adventure Story” … confess!!!

14 comments to True Confessions: Saigon Kid’s True Adventure Stories (Chapter 1)

  • Burt Parker

    Well, I can’t top a browning automatic story, but there was the thing about my sampan, affectionately know as ‘Buccaneer 2″, since the first ‘Buccaneer’ was an old late 1800s something long boat off a ‘down east’ schooner according to Edward Rowe Snow, a New Englander expert on such history stuff, that we fitted with a schooner rig. OK, I digress; sorry.

    Anyway, Dad bought my brothers (Bob, Don, Steve)and I a sampan to play around in the waterways of Saigon with the explicit instructions not to go out of the Saigon city limits. Ha! Who is to know where such demarcation might be when we are out in the river and canals of Saigon’s environs? Anyway, I wish I could attach a pic to this remark of our sampan, with Mike Dunn and Rick Shutt assisting Rob and I in our wanderings around the various waterways. [Umm, I think I posted it on our picture gallery] Anyway, we were amazed at seeing all to folks on every bridge we went under, every river bank we went by where anyone could congregate, to see all the folks wondering why these ‘crazy American kids’ were rowing themselves around about!
    Well, we had fun, got some exercise, and pretty much stayed out of trouble while we were sampaning.

    The back side of this story is that, whether or not Dad knew it at the time (I don’t think he did), as we found out later, he bought us a Saigon Police issue sampan!!!!

    OK, who’s next on the secret lives of us Saigoners?



  • Admin

    Great story Burt! All those people watching you probably thought you hi-jacked a Saigon Police sanpan … lol

    Ahhhhhh the days of our youth!! Wasn’t it GREAT!

    Okay folks .. keep those stories coming …

  • Sarah Rogers

    I want to re-live the story of ‘the painting of the water tower” by one of the original painters…any one owning up to that!

  • Admin

    Good one Sarah!!! 🙂

    But, as you’ll recall all “CLODS” took an oath of silence … ha ha ha *wink*

    There is ONE Saigon Kids “son” who is very well known in Hawaii for painting large murals on walls (at warp speed) … hmmmmmm could it be … could it be … hmmmmm … did he take after his Saigon Kid ‘father’?????? … did his father pass down the fine art of speed wall (tower) painting …????

    Ahh, the plot thickens! 🙂

    Who done it?!!

  • Alice Ahlgren Blackburn

    Hey Sarah,

    I hear Charles Frank Stoddard (he seems to have trouble deciding who he is) is visiting his artist son who just painted an eight foot portrait of a certain presidential candidate(who’s name I dare not mention so we don’t create any political commentary on our peaceful site). And I hear son Silas painted this in about 3 hours…..Sound connected somehow?

  • Admin

    Well White Rabbit … we must not forget the “Contest” son Silas entered and I believe WON about a month ago … something about “painting THREE WALLS in 3 HOURS” … faster then the speed of light … hmmmm … hmmmm …. hmmmm …. ????

    (pondering the clues)

    Hmmm ??? … have you ever wondered why he was only known as “Frank” in Saigon … but, now goes by “Charles” …???

    (pondering ID change to avoid possible detection)

    Then enters into the picture (no pun intended) the Saigon Police issue ‘Sampan’ manned by Capt. Parker and crew … hmmmm???? … could it be … this was the ‘escape’ vehicle used in the caper???? … hmmmmm???? … what better way to slip by the white mice then in one of there own boats … hmmmmm

    (pondering conspiracy theory: teenage Clod motorcycle gang and Buccaneer river privates)

    The clues are adding up…

    Who done it?!

  • frank

    I would like to point out that I had very little to do with the outcome of the evening. Although I do wish I could claim otherwise. The three “painters” that Sarah refers to became my heroes that evening (and maybe ever since). Even my father, who always preached the proper way to be, thought these three guys were really funny in what they did. Unfortunately, their fathers did not see the humor in it. Kurtz (K.J.), M., Pete S. and Jim C. were the artists. Yes, I to would like them to own up.

    Two of them tied a rope around the belt of the third person and lowered him over the side of the school water tower. OOOH would that be a super wedgie or what? I do not know who did the actual painting, but I think it was Pete for he is the one who had the high voice that week.

    Actually it all happened the night of Angel’s party. She and her Mom lived above Tu Do Street near the Theater across from the Continental hotel (see previous DeJa Vu’s). They had hired a Vietnamese band to play rock n’ roll music and I think the clods played also.

    Earlier in the evening, I introduced Bob to Johnny Walker. For some reason “Red” really had a great influence on Bob. Before we knew it, Bob was at the microphone singing “Lonesome Town”. Personally, I thought he was terrible, but I must have been wrong!

    I went over and asked Liz to dance, and she gave me this nasty look and said “no, I want to listen to Bob, don’t bother me!” She then turned away and looked at Bob like he was Elvis or something” (I didn’t tell you about this, did I Bob!! HA!).

    K.J., Pete and Jim, without a word, quietly left the party. Probably, Bob was driving them crazy also. The word soon got out however; that we should all head out to the School. We all squished into those little taxis and headed out. (I think Bob was still singing!) lol

    There it was the immortal words “The Eyes Of….”

    I have often wondered if the gray paint used to cover those big red letters ever wore off and once again made these three guys immortal!

  • Randy Seely

    I agree with Burt — enquiring minds wanna know! However, I will neither confirm or deny I did anything suspect during the time I was in Saigon.
    Names would have to be changed to protect the innocent…and THAT’S no fun! :$ Regards! Randy

  • Admin

    Frank … what a “COVER UP” story!!!!

    Fellow CLODs worldwide are PROUD of you, Frank! You have remained true to the CLOD Oath of Silence!

    I’m sure everyone noticed how cleverly he ‘crafted’ this story. First denying any direct part in the caper (isn’t that the way it usually goes – denial before confession). Hmmm? For a ‘non-participant’ he sure knows a lot of detail. Then how he smoothly shifts the blame by implying my crooning talents put a ‘spell’ on all the lovely ladies, mesmerizing them to the point they would have nothing to do with any of the other guys at the party, thereby, driving them crazy … forcing them to leave the party in hopes of regaining their sanity. (Very slick how he added a touch of TRUTH by inserting the part about the girls all ‘swooning’ over me … done to add credibility to the ‘cover up’, obviously.) But, then suddenly, everyone is back at the party … departing again in little taxis for the school. Hmmm? Seems to be a VOID here from the time he was ‘shot down’ for a dance and everyone squishing into taxis … Hmmm? There appears to be something missing here …

    Who was “M.” ??? (read first paragraph listing the ‘artists’ closely.)

    Why does the story start out listing “4” artists, but only 3 are included in the rest of the story?

    Where was the 4th artist “M.” all this time?

    Then comes the killer question … How in the heck could 2 skinny guys ever begin to hold Pete on a rope hanging off a water tower??!! Geeshhhh .. come on Frank, at Pete’s weight he would have pulled them both over the edge, and all 3 would have crashed to the ground!!

    Ahhh … but the plot does thicken … 🙂

    Who “REALLY” done it???

    Bob (The innocent Crooner) 🙂

  • Ahhhh…
    Confessions. And what good Catholic boy wouldn’t be glad to confess all of the sins he (and his friends) indulged in, especially if he wouldn’t be forced to remain kneeling in a pew saying Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s by the dozens, for all eternity?

    Well, I can’t claim to be a good Catholic boy anymore (if I ever was), but boy have I got some confessions for you! Unfortunately, I have to wait until all my old friends are dead lest their families come to know them for the wild, untamed, dissolute youths they were, once upon a time, in Saigon. And so young, too.

    Either that, or I could change all their names to protect those nasty, guilty-as-hell boys and girls. Hmmm…
    I’ll have to think about it.
    In the meantime let me tell you this: we were BAD.
    And I enjoyed it.
    I’m sure some of you were bad, too.
    Did you enjoy it?
    Come on, now.
    You can tell me.
    I promise I won’t tell anyone.
    Okay. That’s a lie.
    But I WILL change your name!

  • Okay, I have a confession: I’ve been writing a memoir (about my time in Saigon) for the last four years and am about to begin searching for an agent and/or publisher. I’ve had a rather premature bite from one large, NY-based agency and am hoping they will reconsider my manuscript after the suggested re-writes are done. I have no particular training or education in the literary arts, so I’ve been soliciting help from the few people I know who do: mystery writer Zach Klein, a few of my Saigon Kids friends, and a well-known editor who I can’t name right now.

    In the book, I’ve changed the names of everyone but my immediate family and a couple of teachers, Mrs. Schaeffer and Mrs. Tyson. I didn’t do it to protect the innocent though, I did it to protect the guilty. You can all relax!

    The deeds and adventures I recount may mirror some of activities other Saigon brats engaged in — my friends and I learned a lot by observing and imitating the ACS upper class. But though they were role models for us, we had our own agenda and recipes for trouble. For instance, Burt Parkers exploits at the palace were very much like what my two brothers experienced after the coup. They scared the hell out of my mom when she got a gander at the grenade they brought home.

    A couple of the brats who have sounded off on this site have read some of the early revisions, but the book has changed quite a bit from those first attempts. I hope it’s a lot better!

    The search for an agent/publisher begins soon. If any of you know of an agent or publisher that might be interested in a story about the Saigon Kids during that fascinating, yet under-reported period in Vietnam’s history, please let me know.
    Once I have a publishing date, you better believe I’ll tell the world!
    In the meantime, I’m not ‘fessing up to anything…

  • frank

    Les, I wonder how many people think about doing what you have done. The difference is, you did it. Looking forward to reading it.
    I found your blog about AF Radio Station fascinating. I lived in the TAX building (almost next door) when your Father started his radio show in the summer of 62. I think the AF Radio station had the biggest, single, most positive impact on all the G.I. that would serve in Vietnam. Do you think those early Pioneers realized what their impact would be? Frank

  • Thanks, Frank.
    My father didn’t live long enough to see “Good Morning, Vietnam!” but I’m sure he would have liked it. It’s hard to say what the impact of AFRS was. Your average Vietnam-era GI would be the best judge of that. For me, it was the only reliable source for news, and especially pop music from the states. By the time we got the newspaper (the Observer or Stars and Stripes?)” the news wasn’t new any more…

  • frank

    I was in Vietnam from 16 Dec 1966 to 8 Aug. 1968. AFRS was our lifeline to America. I salute your father!!!

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