Mama-San’s Intuition

Mona Lisa
Mama-San – Hill 65 – Vietnam

Monday, December 30, 1968

After the trash detail was finished at the dump, our galvanized GI cans were returned. It was important to scrub the cans down and sanitize them to prevent the flies from breeding. Even the bed of the truck was rinsed with hot water. It was a nasty but necessary task.

Mama-San supervised this detail, and Hoa (her teenage helper) did all the heavy lifting. Hoa spoke fairly good English and was a competent interpreter (using GI slang to fill in the gaps).

Hoa approached me and said, “Mama-San want to speak with you.” The three of us squatted on the road below the mess hall, and the conversation turned to money. Mama-San was convinced the current series of MPC was going to be changed on payday, and she wanted me to help with her stash of existing certificates. This was risky business because we were not allowed to exchange the MPC with local Vietnamese.

After some negotiation I finally offered her $90 in greenbacks in exchange for $130 MPC, and she was satisfied. This kind of “black money market” was happening all over the country. The Vietnamese Piaster was useless and had very little value.

Next Edition: Jenny’s December Update

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