Rusty Water

Cooks’ Shower on Hill 65

Tuesday, January 28, 1969

Pure clean tasting water was a rarity on Hill 65 and the surrounding area.  Our source of drinking water came from the treatment plant at Hill 37.  Water from the Vu Gia River was chlorinated and tested before being dispensed.  It was clear but had a chemical odor.

Hua (our water boy) filled the shower daily with this treated water.  The inside of the 55-gallon drum was rusty, and sediment would settle in the bottom of the barrel.  We took showers in the late afternoon or early evening, and the first shower would flush out the orange silt.

Our shower was gravity fed and came out in a soft trickle.  There was no temperature control.  To conserve water, we would first get wet and then turn the valve off while soaping and scrubbing down.  The final rinse was a luxury but not as effective as a pressurized faucet.

The floor (a metal pallet) was too uncomfortable to stand on in bare feet.  We wore “shower shoes” locally crafted by the Vietnamese from tire treads.  The thong (between the toes) was made of rubber inner tube strips.  When someone finished showering, we could hear the slapping sound of the flip flops on the way back to the hooch.  We had it good.

Next Edition:  Dirty Laundry

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