What are they?
The last time I had seen pictures like these, I was a kid, looking through a View-Master. Thinking back on it, it was pretty thrilling to see the slides, even then. But I never thought I would see them again, in the world of iPhone X super-cameras.
While staying with my uncle, he pointed out his large collection of photo-albums on the shelf and invited me to look at them, as uncles who have lived interesting lives are wont to do. I had heard about his Hawaii trip in great detail, but one area he had little to say about was Vietnam.
“Over and done with.”
So I opened the album, not expecting what I would find. The only images that came to mind about the conflict were of street executions, self-immolation’s, and napalm strikes. So when I opened up the album to so many smiling faces, I was confused. These photos did not relate to “war” at all; they were entirely peaceful. My uncle lived in Saigon during the entire year of 1967, tasked by the military of gathering information about the city. Taking photos was a way of “gathering information,” a thousand words per image, to be exact. The only hint of a conflict is with armored jeeps and the occasional soldier garbed in a red beret. A chapter of Saigon’s history was suddenly unfolding… and the blanks in my head were being filled in with the pictures. I could visualize the city, but only the distance that his photos would propel my imagination. Suddenly my thirst was unquenchable; I wanted to see more. Sitting in his house for more than 50 years was a cache of slides. I felt a twinge of excitement each time I held one up to the light, to see what it portrayed. There was a real chance that it could contribute to history.
Uncle… these are really something. Do you have any more?
I hope to bring that feeling of excitement to you as you look through the photographs and hear the story of Sunny Saigon. If you feel that magical buzz like you are thumbing through a family photo-album, then I have achieved my goal.