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Thursday, November 30, 2023
Nov. 30, 2023

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Everybody Has a Story: Hot weather, audience makes a monkey out of soldier


I was a fairly modest person (though some childhood friends would certainly dispute that) until an incident at the 7th Radio Research Field Station near Udorn, Thailand. That’s where I was a Morse Code interceptor for the U.S. Army Security Agency.

At the 7th, we worked 12-hour shifts with one day a month off. That day, I planned to sleep in.

No way. The house girls arrived with an American-middle-school style of teasing and joyful banter. Then they turned off the air conditioning, which brought the climate up to their standards: hot and humid.

Sleep ended. My bedding became very uncomfortable.

Sweaty, I grabbed a towel, put it around me and walked past the clucking clutch of young women to the showers. Unfortunately, the Army had just installed a washing machine next to the shower entrance. I thought it was for us, however, the girls had taken it over — to bypass paying their friends in the village to wash our clothes.

So, with girls stomping clothes down into their newfound money machine, I entered the curtainless shower area and hoped they kept their eyes on their own business.


The rushing noise of the shower was overwhelmed by gleeful yelps of “Monkey! Monkey! Monkey!” Laughing and finger pointing. Soon the whole gaggle was there. They had never seen a man with body hair before me (and I am not that hairy).

So I put on the towel and a sullen smile. I walked back to my bunk where I dressed and left for the mess hall … with what modesty I had had, down that barracks drain.

Everybody Has a Story welcomes nonfiction contributions, 1,000 words maximum, and relevant photographs. Send to: neighbors@columbian.com or P.O. Box 180, Vancouver WA, 98666. Call “Everybody Has an Editor” Scott Hewitt, 360-735-4525, with questions.

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