The Gook Game

Doc Furman Playing “The Gook Game”

Tuesday, August 13, 1968

The local Vietnamese had permission to set up a tent on Hill 65.  They sold sundry items (candles, writing tablets, bottles of soda, etc.) at inflated prices.  The biggest attraction in the tent was a game table.  We called it “The Gook Game.”

It was a hockey game where players turn rods fixed in a playing box.  Miniature figures were attached to these rods and could be maneuvered to flick a ball toward a goal at either end.  It was fun and also took some skill to get the ball in the goal against the defenses of an opponent on the other side of the table.

Doc Furman was the undisputed champion of the game in Kilo Battery.  There was always a line to play the winner, and the only person to ever beat Doc was the Vietnamese owner of the “Gook Tent.”  The game seemed to be rigged, like when the carnival came to town.  There were no prizes . . . just bragging rights.

In the late afternoon the tent was secured when the Vietnamese left the hill and returned home.  The balls were locked into the game so it couldn’t be played.  I found it interesting that incoming mortars never came near this tent, and I wondered if it was just a coincidence.

None of us had ever heard of Foosball.  It was just a fun and unique game.  We assumed it was invented by the Vietnamese and was a part of their culture.  After returning from Vietnam, I learned the game had begun in the United Kingdom and was the rage in Europe.  It was popularized in the United States during the 1970’s and is still seen in game parlors today.

Next Edition:  Laundry Delivery

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