ITS NOT A DREAM, I'M REALLY HERE
Cu-Chi, Saturday, March 15, 6:00 pm:
Chao Ba!† I† owe you† a† long letter after all that's happened so here goes.
First, I was so happy to talk to you today even though what† I said must not have made much sense at all.† It was a miracle that I was able to talk to you at all.† Last† night, before† the movie, I went over to the MARS station (Military Assistance Radio Service) to see what† it was† all† about. They had† a† sign posted that there was no contact with the States at that time but maybe at 10:00 pm that† night† (last night).† So after the movie I went back over to see if they were busy or not.† I wanted to tell you not to worry† about me† because† I† was the Generals barber and wasn't suffering too much except that I† don't† get† any† mail.† Well,† there were† 4-5 guys waiting so I went back to my hootch and wrote to you.† Today I started my new job and by noon† I† had† cut about† l0† heads† and made† $6.50 in tips, so I felt pretty good.† At lunch, I went over to the† PX† and bought me† a thermos† to keep ice water in.† On the way back from the PX I was going down the side road back to the† barber† shop† to avoid† some† gook† that† asked me to get cigarettes for him, when I passed right by the MARS station, so I stopped in to see† if they had made contact.† The guy walked out and asked me what number I wanted, showed me to a booth and there† you were.† I† had† so much I wanted to tell you but when I heard your voice my mind went† blank.† You† do† that† to me† you know!† You must cast a spell on me.
Anyway,† I† told some of the officers as I cut they're hair and they said that they have been waiting† for† months to† call but have never been able to catch them.† The good Lord is still taking care of #1.
Tomorrow I'll go to† church† and† count† my blessings: first,† that† I† came here to HQ because of my scores on the Army tests; secondly, that I can† cut hair which kept† me from going to a combat unit; and thirdly, that my tip money will help us get† out† of† debt† before† I† come home;† and fourthly,† that† I'm with† a† unit† that might be moving to Hawaii this summer.† I guess that will† cover† one† Sunday's worth.† The Lord† must† need me for something important, he sure looks out for us both.† But† me† especially† because† I found you and married you.
Now for the interesting part.† The PX sells:
Chinaware:†††††††††††† Fukagawa,† Noritake,† Seyei,† Soma (About $23-26 for service for 8 and customs free)
Lacquer ware:††††††† All kinds
Pearls:††††††† Cultured by Maruwa, Furuya, and Mikimoto
And lots of other things but I couldn't get† a† catalog to† send you,† sorry.† You† can† go and look at the one you want and tell me† or† do you want† me† to† just pick† out something?† I† made over $10 in tips today alone so it won't be any financial burden if† I† send you† a† service† every week.† Services† for† 12† are also available but about twice the price.† I searched and searched for a gift for you† the other† day† but† nothing was† good† enough for you except a diamond ring† I† saw† for† $700† or† so.† Maybe† later.† But meantime I'll think of something.
So my† precious† don't worry about your fast shrinking husband.† He's got it pretty† easy.† The† shower† is† right outside† my† door† and† the† mess hall right across from the barbershop.† I'll take some pictures† and† send you† next week.
Meanwhile,† write† to me.† I† really miss all those "I love You's" that you always send.
Oh yes, if you get a chance call 83l-7060 and tell† the Honor Guard† that I'm the General's barber in the 25th Div. They ought to get a good laugh out of that.
That's about all for† now.† Stay† loose† and† say your prayers.† Your husband thinks of you constantly.
p.s.†††††††† Hi Jonette and Nikki
p.s.s.† I need a Photostat of Nikki's birth certificate.
p.s.s.s.† Here's† some† funny money (script)† They won't let us have any greenbacks.
Me and Lan Ngan, my hootch maid.† She washed my uniforms
And shined my shoes besides sweeping out the shop and all
For only $1.00 a day and an occasional box of Tide.
Cu-Chi, Sunday, March 16, 7:30 pm:
My first Sunday in Vietnam.† Tomorrow marks the end of my† first week† here and it seems like itís been an eternity already.† I guess I'll be here for awhile since my haircuts aren't† too bad but I'm not as fast as the other barber so I don't cut as many people as he did.† It's† not† bad though. I† made $l6 in tips in a day and a half.† I ought to be able to send you more each month if this keeps up.† This† is† the first hobby† that paid off.† The old barber went to Saigon to buy some barber equipment but couldn't find any† so he's leaving his.† I† should take† over the barber hootch next week sometime.† Please send me a big picture† of you† three girls† to hang on my wall near the barber stool to remind me of why I don't want† to go† to the† field.† I† think† this barber† job† is† going to be awful hard on me, mentally, and on my feet physically.† But† for† love† and money† I'll† do anything.
It's† raining here† right now.† The† first in several months and wow does it come down.† This† place† turned† from dust bowl† to mud pie.† I could have gone outside and taken a bar of soap and showered it was coming down so hard.
I went† to† church† this† afternoon† (the barber† gets Sunday† afternoon †of f)† and met† the† rest† of the members around here.† There were about 35-40 guys there so we had a good† meeting.† I† have† to† go† see† about becoming a home teaching district leader tonight.† It was nice† to be† able to† go† to† church and take the sacrament here in the middle of all this conflict.† I felt like giving a talk† today† but didn't for the sake of harmony.
My watch† stopped† tonight at† 6:55 pm for no reason. I'll have to go get it fixed tomorrow.
Oh yes, any package sent regular mail up to 5 lbs† goes air† mail† to Vietnam anyway and from 5-30 lbs packages go space available.† So keep† them small† and many.† I† don't really need much right now but lots of love and prayers."
Cu-Chi, Monday, March 17, 9:00 pm:
Hi† there† you all!† Lonely Jake the barber here.† Well I've been here a week now but† it† seems† like† a year.† At least† the† day† goes† fast while I'm cutting hair.† I don't get any breaks except for lunch but† I† still† only work† 8 hours† a† day.† That's† a† little better that the 24 hours a day in the field.† I made $ll.40 in tips today so it wasn't a† total† loss.† If† I† keep this up we might be able to get out of debt† someday.† I† still haven't† spent† any† of† my combat pay† yet.† I† just don't buy anything but stationary and soda.
Ahh - a cool† breeze† just† came† blowing through† the door.† I† just† took† a† shower and am laying here on my bed writing while lounging in my† shorts.† The† only† reason† I wear† shorts† is† because of modesty.† There aren't too many people here that really care anyway.
Off in the distance some big† artillery† is† going off and† around† the perimeter flares are floating down here and there, but since I† got here† everything has† quieted way down.† The† only way† I could get hurt is if the VC overrun Cu-Chi, which isn't very likely with the big air† bases† so near,† or† if† a mortar round lands right on top of me while I'm asleep.† Otherwise I'm safer than† on† the† freeway but not close enough to come home nights.
You would enjoy it here right now.† It's just cooling off after a very hot, humid day.† The gentle† breeze† is† so refreshing† and† the† stars† are† bright† overhead and the crickets are chirping here and there† among the hootches.† It's† that† time† of† the evening when you just lay down and look up at the stars and think† of home,† glad to† forget about the toils of the day.
Well,† I've† just been talking to a LRRP (pronounced Lurp - for Long Range Recon Patrol)† and he's† telling me about† some† of† his missions.† It sounds like a dangerously exciting thing but not for me at the present time.
p.s.† Send me some hair clipper oil (2 cans) when you get† a chance.
(Editors† note:† The shower room had showerheads around the outside walls fed by a pipe from a large water tank †on† the roof.† Each† night† a big water truck would come from the water purification plant and fill† up the† tank.† The† tank was† painted black† so† the sun would heat the water in the tank to warm by the end of the day.† If you† got† there† too late† in† the evening and the water was all gone, you had to wait until about midnight for a cold shower or take† a† spit bath.† The† thought† of† going† to bed† covered with other peopleís hair forced me into many spit† baths.† I† kept† a† 5-gallon water† can† in my shop and could shower on my front porch with those 5 gallons in a pinch.)