Cu-Chi, Sunday, March 23, 6:30 pm:
It's really nice to have a half-day off once a week. It makes the weekend seem like a weekend instead of just another day.
From the tone of your letters you seem disappointed that I'm just the General's barber. I know you aren't really but it does sound sort of weird when people ask you what your husband is doing in the war, to have to say "He's the General's barber." Well I've been thinking all day about a title for me that would sound impressive enough for you to spread around. Well here goes. I'm the "Non-commissioned officer-in-Charge (NCOIC) of the 25th Infantry Division's Headquarters personnel hygiene and grooming detachment under direct supervision of Major General Ellis B. Williamson, Commander, 25th Inf. Div." How's that? Sounds impressive huh?
Well, my Bic pen just broke so I have to be careful while I write.
I wrapped your china today and I'll send it off tomorrow by boat so it ought to come in about 3-4 weeks. (I hope) It costs $25.60 by airmail and $4.10 by boat so it's coming by boat. I just hope it gets there in one piece. I'll insure it for $50 so if it breaks I can buy another one.
We're having a "short-timers" party for the 1st Sgt that's leaving. He bought steaks and bar-b-qued them and iced down some beer and cokes and we're having a party this evening. It sure tasted good.
I went to church today and was given the Home teachers district leader job here in Cu-Chi and also I have to give a talk next Sunday. I'll either talk about the 2,000 sons of Helaman or the trials of Job. I think either one is appropriate.
Today was a slow day at the barbershop but yesterday I got over $12 in tips. They add up real quick but I spend it as fast as I get it.
No letter from you tonight so I'll probably get two tomorrow. I still love you anyway.
This job of mine gets better everyday although it gets more monotonous. I'm exempt from ALL extra duty and only work 8-12, 1-5 with Sunday afternoons off. I still can't believe there's a war going on around me. It just hasn't got to me yet.
I'll try and call again this week or next on my lunch hour, which is about the same time I got you last time 8-9 pm.
Cu-Chi, Monday, March 24, 6:30 pm:
Do you realize that in a little over one week of barbering I have received over $94 in tips. But I've spent $118.75 on misc. junk like a fan, radio and iron for my barbershop, some bamboo wallpaper, pants, chinaware and small items. I'll start saving some of that money now that I don't need too much else.
Now a little about the mail. You might think that these letters take a long time to get to you but here's the reason. I write you in the evening when the day is the prettiest, just cooling off and after I've had my shower. I put the letter in the mailbox and it doesn't go to the post office until the following afternoon at 4:30 pm and then it leaves the APO post office for shipment to Bien-Hoa where it's loaded on a plane for the States. (the world) So it seems like it takes a long time to get to you but if anything special happens I'll take the letter right to the post office and it will get to you one day sooner.
Your adventurous husband doesn't really have too much exciting to tell you. Oh yes, I sent your china off at noon today. I'll send you another set to give to Larry and Barbara and I'll send Jim and Ilene a set and by then Ron and Marlene will want one1 etc. There's no limit on chinaware so I can send as many as I want.
I went out to the bunker line at noon on the way to mail your china. I wasn't very impressed by the whole thing. It was just a bunch of broken down old sandbags and a little barbed wire. It's no wonder that the VC got into this camp three weeks ago and blew up nine big choppers. If the VC really tried I bet they could just walk into this place. But don't worry. They keep the perimeter pretty well guarded since the last attack.
I can't believe these people here. They get drunk every night just to forget this place. Then they start again in the morning just to get an early start.
Well I have to go take a shower and go to bed now.
Cu-Chi, Tuesday, March 25, 6:15 pm:
I got your package this evening. Thanks for the little flower in the pot. I'll put that in my barbershop so everyone can get inspiration from it, but especially me.
It's funny to get answers to questions I wrote last week in today’s mail. But I try and stay loose. Now that you tell me to go ahead and pick out the china, it's already on its' way. It shows we communicate by means other than letters. Why just this minute I got a thought that I should go over to the MARS station and call you. So you must have been dreaming about me since it's 2:30 am where you are. Thanks for dreaming of me but I don't want to wake you. You need your energy to take care of my daughters.
I think I'll write letters tonight since I don't have a whole lot else to do. It's nice to look forward to the evening when I can relax and write you my thoughts and problems.
The hootch girls (17 & 19 yrs old) have a nice name for me already. Since there's no J in the Vietnamese language it's very hard for them to call me Jake. So the other day we were having my Vietnamese lesson for the day and I came across the word for tall which is "cao" (cow). And I said cao and pointed to myself, that I was tall, so now I'm called cao. Affectionately, of course. The two hootch girls names are Lan (the one who cleans the barber shop) and Hai, who works next door but spends a lot of time in the barbershop. Neither of them speaks English but between the GI Pigeon English they know and the little Vietnamese I've picked up, we get along fine.
We had a little excitement last night for a change. As I was getting into bed two mortar rounds went off somewhere close and I headed for the bunker next door. I didn't go in because no more went off but it definitely did scare me somewhat. Then about 3:00 am a helicopter was flying right above my hootch shooting his machine gun at something or another. I lay there watching the tracers go shooting down like falling red stars. It at least looked real, you know, like a war or something!
Today was a busy day at the shop and I picked up $l5.80 in tips. If it keeps up this way I'll be sending you $200 a month more, since that's all I can send without them asking questions. The rest I'll spend and send home in gifts so I can please everyone. I guess the Lord is taking care of us like always. I sure hope I can pay him back someday.
I don't really know how I can write three pages everyday but since I can't talk to you direct I guess I try and write everything that I would say if I were there with you.
I was just talking to one of the guys, Sgt Tom, an Indian from Oklahoma, who is really wanting to go back to the field. He's going nuts around here because they just can't keep him busy enough to suit him. He's been telling me some of his stories and it definitely sounds like fun to be out where the action is but I can't afford it. When the Army will give me Sgt's pay and $l0-15 a day for cutting hair, I can't afford to turn them down just for the sake of excitement.
p.s. R&R in Hawaii in Sept. OK??
Cu-Chi, Wednesday, March 26, 6:45 pm:
Well I earned my money today. I cut Major General Williamson's hair and gave him a neck rub with the vibrator. He's real quiet but I could tell he liked the neck rub if not the haircut. The Chief of Staff came in this morning. He's the most feared man on post because he makes these jokers act and dress right. He is always nice to me and even remembered that I was from L.A. and asked me how it was. I was flattered that he even bothered to remember the barbershop let alone that I was from Los Angeles. Otherwise it wasn't too busy today, only $1l.50 worth.
That's my exciting news for the day so I'll quit for now until I come back from the movie, maybe then I'll have something more to add. Bye!
OK, I'm back. The movie was French and sort of dumb, no plot but women and violence.
I put my flower up in my barbershop today and made everyone happier, especially me. A package of cookie crumbs came today but no letter. Maybe tomorrow.
I move into my barber hootch Saturday and then I can start making improvements in the place. My brain just isn't working tonight so I'll quit while I'm ahead.
I might get to go to Saigon Friday to get my clippers sharpened. A camera, single lens reflex, can be had for about $50. The other kind is cheaper of course.
p.s. Today was our anniversary. I had to leave you three weeks ago this morning. I hate to remember such things.