The Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa
Mama-San – Hill 65 – Vietnam

Sunday, September 1, 1968

Top Culverhouse was giving haircuts (he did this on Sundays only).  I asked for “high and tight.”  This was Top’s only option.  Hairstyles didn’t matter much to most of us, but a few would go to the Hill 37 barber and pay for a longer cut.

Reb was busy sketching with his new pencils and slate . . . his live model was Mama-San.  She posed below our hooch in the sunlight, wearing her typical black pajama bottoms and sweater, buttoned at the top.  After some time passed, Reb excused her and took the sketch inside the hooch to finish.

During our afternoon break, Reb was sound asleep, and his artwork was propped up next to his cot.  The background was unfinished, but Mama-San’s portrait was done.  Her smile was like the “Mona Lisa” . . . what was she thinking?

Later in the evening Reb had put the final touches on the sketch, and we jokingly told him of the resemblance to Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece.  Reb laughed and said, “Art is an illusion . . . sometimes you see things that aren’t there.”  He filed the sketch in his portfolio.

Next Edition:  The Leg

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