Monday, December 10, 2012

Bill Laurie's Vietnam

Bill Laurie

"What Do You Do When It's the End?"



I left Vietnam about three days after Kissinger said"Peace is at hand". I laughed. I knew there was not going to be any peace until there was a military victory, until either the North won in the South, or until the South had got its shit together to the point where being sent to the South was a death sentence, and by virtue of that Hanoi would decide that they had best pursue other things other than trying to take over the South militarily. But there would be no peace. And I can't say I've got documents, and I can't say I've got proof, but when you're over there that amount of time, you start smelling things. You rely much more on your intuitive sense rather than the old western logic. You really develop strong reliance on your feelings and your guts. And so I, to my own satisfaction, knew that there would not be any end to any war after that peace treaty was signed. When I came back to the states and people were talking about peace, I was astounded. People were saying well now the war is over. And having been over there I was not plugged into the wave of thought here. I'd gone into it too much. My thought patterns weren't cognizant of what was going on here. And people were saying, "well the war's over now", and I said, "You're out of your mind! You really, seriously think the war is over?" They'd go "well, they signed the peace treaty" and I say, "that's bullshit. There's no end to any war. That's just a way for us to get out. It's not going to stop. It's not going to end." And people said,"Well what do you mean? All this Paris peace treaty stuff.""Well it's bullshit, or it's invalid, or whatever you want to call it. It is not an end to any war. It is, if nothing else, just part of a "decent interval". We want to get out. That all it means. So I came home in November, 1972. But I was not happy to leave Vietnam. I would gladly have stayed longer. If they said, "Do you want to extend for two years?" I would have said, "Absolutely! Right now! Where do I sign? But I couldn't. Nobody could. At that time it was just "get out!" I had to fight like hell to stay there as long as I did because once I got there they were saying, "Hey we got too many people, everybody's getting an early out". And I didn't want that. Fortunately they miscounted and sent too many people home, so they cancelled the early out. But I was scrambling like a mad man to get an extension, or be released from military duty in the country. By that time I was just grafted on to South Vietnam. I did not want to leave. I did not want to come back to the States. I still had things todo in South Vietnam. I came back here and they dropped me off at Travis AFB and sent me down one end of a building and when I came out the other end I was a civilian. I found that when I tried to talk to Americans back here, I just had nothing in common with them. I was in the same situation as one who comes to a party late and one know ahead of time that it's not the kind of people he really likes to associate with anyhow, but he's going to the party. He gets there late and everybody else is already drunk or stoned. And if you ever walk into a party where everybody is drunk or stoned and you're not, that's the way I felt. I had nothing in common with them. I did the whole archetypal Vietnam Vet syndrome thing. I went back to my folks place in Waukeegan, Illinois. I was very diligent in not even thinking about resumes or jobs or anything else, and thank God my parents put up with it. My dad had been in World War II. He, I guess, figured I was having some problems and just figured, "He'll be all right". I know my mother thought I had malaria because I had no ambition. I'd get up at eleven o'clock, go down to the woods -- we had fifteen square miles of woods right across the street from my folks house, swamps, and I'd go down with my cameras, walk, take pictures, come home around six or seven, drink a six pack, watch a late-night movie, wake up at eleven o'clock the next day. I don't know what it was, it was just like I was in a hole and I had to stay in my hole, stay in my little tunnel and think things out before I came back out again. And I was very distraught over the news coverage of the peace. I would sit there and be watching tv with my folks, and they'd say, "Now with luck we'll have peace in Southeast Asia". And I'd say, "That's a bunch of bullshit. It's a lie." The insult at being lied to by that electric tube is overwhelming. You want to reach in there and grab the newsguy and throttle him right there on the spot. Tell him to quit lying to you. I kind of figured I was going back. I'd been planning on it. I wanted to work with USAID because I wanted to be doing something constructive. I wanted to go out in the villages and work with the people. I knew there'd be a USAID presence over there. I was very stupid. I thought, well I speak Vietnamese, I just fill out a form and send it in and they'll call me up. It doesn't work that way. Your form goes on the bottom with everybody else. Basically it's who do you know, and not in terms of the unfairness of it all, it's just that, hey, this guy speaks Vietnamese very well, let's get him over here. I didn't know anybody that knew me that could have put me in that position. By then I had drifted back down to Arizona. One of the guys that had been over there who I had been in the military with had found out about all this stuff, the residual American presence and the Defense Attach Office -- the DAO. And for whatever reasons, he decided he wanted to stay and he got hold of me, and at first I declined by not responding because I wanted to work for USAID. I was upset over the imperceptiveness and clumsiness of our military and I personally wanted to go do something constructive, get away from all the crap, get out in the villages. But that didn't pan out. So the second time I heard from him, I thought about it one day and I sent a telegram saying start the paperwork. So I was the Defense Attache Office which was funded strictly out of the Defense Department. I flew out of Travis, in July '73. Back in Vietnam the immediate impression I gained -- and it was something I hadn't thought of, and it shows how ignorant I was of what was working and why it was working over there -- was the tremendous economic suffering, the unemployment, inflation. You had a depression. We talk about how bad our depression was. When we pulled out, we let go thousands and thousands of people who were working. The economic effect of our departure should have been foreseen, should have been planned for. I question whether these people gave it any thought at all. You can not hope to all of a sudden manufacture, if you will, twenty-five percent unemployment, and expect to have a growing viable society with any strength to it. It was terrible. God it was poor. There was nothing. I knew ARVN officers who worked in Saigon. Right away if you're an officer and you work in Saigon, you're four cuts above the rest. You can moonlight because you can work in Saigon, and you're an officer so you get paid a little bit more money. Your wife works, so she can get some money. You both live in one place. That makes it four, five, six times easier than if you live out in the boonies. This guy, a captain, could not afford to eat breakfast. He did not eat breakfast. He was too poor. This guy was in a good position to maintain himself and he was hungry all the time. Corruption got worse as the economy went to hell. And as the economy worsened there was more of the tendency to look at the corruption and to say "I don't have mine, now I'm twice as mad as I was before." If you were doing all right, you can say "Ah well, he's making his money. He's corrupt. He should be shot. But I'm still doing o.k. and I'm going to go home and see my kids tonight". But when it got to the economy's being as ravished as it was--I think about twenty-five percent unemployment and forty percent inflation--what the hell do you do? You have people with no hope. Nothing, there are no jobs, inflation is going bananas, and then without having any hope for yourself, the focus of your hatred is even more applied toward the government and Thieu. Yet, when I arrived I think the attitude of the DAO was guardedly positive. You have to remember that Hanoi got the shit knocked out of it in '72. I'm convinced, and I have no way of knowing, but I am convinced that one of the reasons they did attack was first one they figured they could pull another presidential election upset in 1972 as they did in 1968 because the American people were tired of the war. And secondly I suspect they were getting a little antsy about Vietnamization. And I suspect that they also felt like "we'd better get in there and shatter some of ARVN's gains so we can get our people in there for the cease fire. In other words, it was almost maybe roughly speaking an act of "we'd better do something, we're backsliding". And in conducting that '72 offensive they got their butts kicked, I mean hammered. They lost a lot of people. They were in no way shape or form ready or able or intending to try it again at that point in time. They were licking their wounds. So at that point without an aggressive posture, a heightened capability on the part of the other side, and with ARVN having matured, we were optimistic. I was based by the DAO in Saigon and I would go down to the Delta and go to Ca Mau or go to Rach Gia and then I'd take off on little side jaunts or do a USAID dedication of a school, or we'd hop in a jeep and drive up to some school out in the middle of nowhere, do this, do that. It was a very unique position because I was given pretty much carte blanch, as it were, in what I wanted to do and who I should talk to, and I would have requirements of the things we need to know about. The attack on Ban Me Thuot came in March and was a surprise to me because I was really looking at the Delta and observing the enemy's forces there. Also I had gone beyond just the intelligence aspect of it to look at what the ARVN was really capable of. So I was following details such as typical battalion strength in the different divisions and this and that. From what I understand, we expected the NVA to attack in Kontum or Pleiku. It was one or the other and then all of a sudden, Bingo! It was Ban Me Thuot. I wasn't surprised that it fell so quickly. On the other hand had they stood their ground, I wouldn't have been surprised either. The South Vietnamese soldiers were in a very tenuous position. They did not have enough to eat. They were poor. For example, ARVN soldiers never bought a pack of cigarettes. They bought one or two at a time. That's how poor they were. The poverty was just overwhelming. You can understand Vietnam if you start at one end of a hot Kansas county with sixty pounds on your back and walk the rest of the week and have three sandwiches. Hunger does real bad things to you. I don't know if you've ever been hungry for long periods of time, but hunger does terrible things to you. The guys were hungry, poor, with no hope. There was no hope for any of them. They weren't stupid. They knew what the United States was doing to them with the aid cutback. Let's face it, what did they have hope for, a renegotiated settlement? Paris peace accords? Nixon? Obviously they're cut adrift. I don't understand how they fought the two years they did. There's no R and R, there's no this, there's no that, no rotation back to the States. You've got a life of fighting. I don't think the normal person here in the states would have endured that. I think they would have quit. I think they would have shot themselves. But these guys fought on. But you get hungry, you get tired, you feel overwhelmed, and you're playing numbers games. The NVA can come in out of Laos or Cambodia and hit Kontum or Pleiku whenever they want. And they apply massive force, overwhelming force at a target of their choosing. And pick it off. I knew what was coming down the Ho Chi Minh trail. W eall did. It was obscene. It was really obscene, this war machine --the blood lust these people had in Hanoi. I'm convinced they're absolutely pathological. I'm saying theywere just getting this psycho orgasm over it. It was just disgusting. Stuart Herrington went to Hanoi a couple of times and he came back shaking his head. He said, "It's just incredible. It's like the Romans cheering the lions. Sick."This stuff was coming down the Ho Chi Minh trail in tons and tons. The Ho Chi Minh trail was no longer a bicycle path in the jungle. The Ho Chi Minh trail was an all-weather highway with a parallel oil pipeline. And they were beefing it up and you'd get the readout on the intelligence on what was coming down and you'd just shake your head and say,"Oh, God, no." It sent chills down your spine. "When this cuts loose, look out." After Phuoc Long fell and then after Ban Me Thuot fell, there was this pause by the NVA. I think part of it was they were asking themselves , "What are the Americans going to do?" I'm convinced to the end they were wondering about that, because Saigon and Tan Son Nhut were well within range of their 130mm guns. They could have blown that place apart. You'd go around and try and gather up people here and there, and just look at the sky and ask, "What if they really decide to just cut loose?" You're buried, you'll never get out. Well, you might get out, they might end the war and you get to go home after prisoner release. I'm convinced that they had --just like the witch in the Wizard of Oz who was deathly afraid of water --a deathly fear of B-52s. When America really decides to hit you, like Nixon did in '72, it's going to hit you. We boxed their ears real bad in '72. And they’re afraid of that. So I think there was partially the question of "What's going to happen now?" And I also think some of it began to happen faster than they had planned for it. I know they didn't plan on winning until '76. So it's probably a combination of logistics and "see what happens here" and so forth. Or it may just have been poor planning. They're no all that good at planning. I remember a conversation he and I had about the NVA Third NVA division in MR II in the An Lao Valley, and the ARVN 22nd Division was up against them. And our DAO MRII man, Doug Dearth, told me, "Those guys assigned to that Third Division stand a 50/50 chance of being dead in a month."That's because ARVN 22nd Division was slugging it out with them. ARVN was not the best army in the world, but I'll tell you, they were fighting not the brilliant massive sweeping cinematic battles of glorious you see in movies, but it was one of these bloody rotten shitty meat grinder battles and you’re hungry and tired, scared shitlesss and everything else. And they were staying in that stuff. They weren't deserting. They weren't breaking and running. They were right there in the thick of it. I think part of the reason for the route in MR2 is because those guys had put up with an existence of hell, you had no hope, you're hungry, tired, worried about your family, nothing positive in your life, just day in and day out misery. And they had one thing to show for it, they held. And then Thieu gives it up. Knowing how other people hated Thieu, I can just imagine these guys thinking, "Oh, that fucking does it. We bought this land, we bought what we have, the area we control." A soldier that has busted his butt, buried his friends, and he's still got his dirt, that's his, he's earned it. And then Thieu gives it up. You start thinking, these guys all died and suffered for nothing. Leaving the Central Highlands was insanity. You could become insane real quick with something like that. It was an unfortunate situation. I'm sure the awareness was there of the possibility they couldn't hold it. But the fact was that up to that point they had. And to get actually pushed out militarily is one thing. To have it given up, just say okay now we don't need this anymore, anybody in their right mind knows if you give up the central highlands, you are not going to defend the coastal plain. It's gone. Then all your logistics just come pouring in. I heard about the withdrawal from the Highlands at DAO one day, and I just figured, "Oh shit, it's just getting worse at an exponential rate." I had no idea what the outcome would be or when, but I didn't think it would be much longer. Some of the guys thought something could be done about it and I was with them in my heart, but in my mind I said, "This is it. You're not going to put Humpty Dumpty back together again." I figured it was over on the basis of several factors. ARVN had been through too much. People have limits. I don't care how brave you are, how good you are, you have limits. If you've been hungry, had the shit beat out of you, tired, scared, no hope, sooner or later armies collapse. It's happened before in Asia. Look at China. Divisions left Chiang Kai-shek and went to the other side. Plus as far as I was concerned, standing in front of the North Vietnamese at that point in time was a weakened societal structure, and weakened economy, the social fabric was torn to shit. It would be like trying to stop a cement truck by standing in front of it. Just awesome power. Massive fire power. You look at the stuff they had, and they knew how to use it. They are probably some of the world's premier artillery gunners. And probably some of the world's premier anti-aircraft people. They had a superb light infantry until they diluted it with these undertrained little kids, seventeen year old kids. They are very worthy adversaries. You are dealing with pros. They are not going to cut you any slack at all. Given the will and drive behind them, the Hanoi leadership, it was almost chilling to think of the awesome power that they had and that they were going to commit. As I read the situation, they finally saw they had as hot for all the marbles and this time it's not going to betaken away from us. They threw everything out of North Vietnam, training divisions, everything, and sent it South. They didn't expect to win until '76. But they figured winning in time was inevitable. All the captured documents say, "Now we've got ARVN where we want them. They don't have anything to fight with. They're fighting a poor man's war."And they were. You tell your troops if you get in contact, you have two rounds on call. That's totally worthless. That's enough to register fire and adjust fire for effect. Two rounds is nothing. The other side had overwhelming and massive fire superiority. Big stuff. There wasn't any of these little guerrilla guys anymore, farmer by day, soldier by night. This was regular well-armed, incredibly sophisticated anti aircraft. Incredibly awesome artillery. And the guns that they had, 130mm guns, you can't fire counter battery, the 155mm or the 105mm. If I have a squirt gun that shoots twenty-five feet and you have a squirt gun that shoots ten feet, you lose. The guns they had, the 130mmand 122mm guns shoot farther than 155s and 105s. ARVN had some 175s but they're difficult to move around. In effect what we gave them was useless against what Moscow gave Hanoi. Those 130 guns are incredibly nasty and relatively speaking, rather portable. You can pull those things behind a truck. Relatively small carriage, big bore. What are they going to do? There was so much stuff going on I couldn't keep track. I had to cover my own butt and make sure I could get out of there and the people that I wanted to get out of there could get out. So other than doing my job, which at that point--what are you going to do, after all? Say "things are fine in the Delta?" So what? Any talk of moving the government south to the Delta was just dreaming. It wouldn't work. It becomes a matter of geography. The smaller the area becomes, the greater the concentration of forces. It's just simple mathematics. They can pour all their divisions in a smaller area and then how are we going to resupply? My thoughts were that once the highlands went that was it, it was just a matter of time. I could not get married to a local under the terms of my contract because of my exposure to classified material. But we did not live together. She was standard-issue girl from standard-issue Vietnamese family. Worked at the bank. And then when I realized that time was really short, let's get that paperwork going. Finally we just gave up on all that crap too. Just had a civil ceremony. You just get a certificate from the Vietnamese government that you're married, which is fully legal and everything else. I know some people in D.C. to this day think that I'm not legally married, because I didn't tell anybody. Getting married was just a commercial in the entire tragic program, just a brief interlude, take a couple hours off work, get papers signed, get back to business. No, I just felt miserable at the time -- ironically. By the time there was a front established at Xuan Loc, the NVA had so much to fight with and the South Vietnamese had so little to fight with--let's face it, who was going to come to the South Vietnam's assistance? If only in the diplomatic field, if only to get them something to fight with? Switzerland? No, that's over with. They have no benefactors. Hanoi had a benefactor who loaded them up to the gills with everything they wanted to shoot. That's Moscow. I have a security clearance. They are not going to leave me behind. And I wasn't going to leave my wife behind. I wasn't going to leave till I got the people I wanted to, and there wasn't a damn thing they could have done except say okay. And by that time, the belligerence of having your entire world, psyche trashed and violated, you just say I'm drawing my line here. These are my terms. In my mind at that point in time, I said I'm either getting my wife out of here, and whoever else I deem worthy of getting out of here, or I'm not going. I've got clearance that you want to get out of here. I had that as an option. I never really worried about it. I wasn't being a brave guy, I was just being someone who just flat didn't give a shit anymore. What are you going to do? Cut my hair and send me to Vietnam? You do get that way. You insist on your terms. I wasn't worried about that. I suspected that the odds were very slim the NVA would come loose. My gut feeling was they're going to let the evacuation go. And many other people felt the same way. If you harm one American head, Ford can come in on the war powers act. He's got sixty days and he can have B52s flying in about three. So I'm sure Hanoi was always thinking in the back of their mind, we better not harm an American or at least look as if we're going to jeopardize the success of the evacuation. They are paranoid almost in a clinical sense of the B52. The B52 is a devastating thing. On top of the fact that they had just the plumpest B52 targets you could ever imagine. It's tough to bomb guerrillas from thirty thousand feet in the air. It is not tough to bomb a divisional logistics base. That's just tailor made for a B52 target. So they were very very vulnerable to American air power. I wasn't worried about that. The only fear that did enter my mind was a berserk South Vietnamese. Which I never saw happen then. I had seen berserk ARVN before and they are berserk. A case in point I saw I was out in a village and there was some old dumpy little bus and some ARVN came down the street and he was drunk and -- the syndrome was not new to me -- just fed up. As I found out later his brother had been killed and he was still having problems with a stomach wound he had sustained years before, and he had no hope. Fight for nothing, die for what? No life, no nothing. He climbed up on the hood of this bus, barefoot, and started kicking windows out and smashing the windows out with his hands. He had blood dripping down his arms and hands and everything else. His feet were all bleeding. He was a mad man. I felt that I knew these people well enough that if the South Vietnamese put away a lot of alcohol I knew that it was a distinct possibility, maybe not a probability, but if it was in the wrong time in the wrong place with the wrong ARVN, any one of the Americans there could have been shot and drilled right on the street and just left. It was probably very remote, but it was in the back of your mind. By leaving the way we did we were in effect telling them you lived and died for nothing. It's a cosmic insult. Out of the whole universe you are worth squat. And they were fed up. The whole culmination of Thieu and corruption, and the fact that they were willing to fight but couldn't. All they asked was for a reorganization, somebody who would tell them what to do. They didn't get any commands. They were ARVN units and they wanted to fight. No orders, no nothing. It's as low as you can be right at the threshold of killing themselves. Total despair, no hope. I know for a fact some didn't give a rat's ass whether they lived or died. But as far as they were concerned, as Hollywoodish as it sounds, their big hope was just take as many NVA with them as they could. I know they lived that, that wasn't words, that's what they did. I remember one fellow I knew that had a little refreshment stand and of course in Vietnam that's the equivalent to a neighborhood bar or restaurant. It's neat, you scrounge up two tables and an umbrella and a little soup stove and you got yourself a restaurant, you're in business. I ate at his place many many times. Very nice individual. He was approximately mid-40s, kind, warm, friendly human being, a neat guy. One day I was sitting there and he just looked over and he said, "If the north Vietnamese communists takeover, this is all gone. I can't refreshment to them. It's all over with." I don't know if it's understandable for an American that has not been here, but it is THE END in giant letters-- the end of everything. Your life, the hopes for your children, it's gone, evaporated, destroyed. They only thing equivalent is something that we see vicariously like in"Star Wars," when Darth Vader destroyed an entire planet. What you have in Vietnam is destruction of a total way of life, not just a government, not just an army. And these people knew what the other side was and they weren't up there debating communism. They knew them for what they did as communists. And hell, none of these people read Karl Marx, or any other political or economic philosopher or anything else. When they saw what the people did, they knew. The fear. The chill. What do you do when it is the end? You just take your whole life and erase it. Everything, your childhood, what you are brought up to believe, and what you want to do with your life, however feeble it may have been, whatever miserable little hopes you may have had for somehow, some way getting along. But here's a guy on the lowest rung of society's ladder, a damn soup vendor, and his life is going to be over with. He can't even sell soup as capitalism is not allowed. Which has materialism. They crack down on all this stuff. By the time he resigned, Nguyen Van Thieu was irrelevant. If I had any thoughts toward the matter at all I was hoping he'd get shot. I had contempt for what he represented, and when you've been in Vietnam and Asia and you understand how arrogant the so-called intellectuals can be, they just look down on the peasants. We don't even have equivalent snobs here like some of their jerks who said"dirty peasants". They're just such effete pricks. You could not care less if they were shot or run over, it makes no difference whatsoever. It sounds very cruel in the context here. But here is a guy and he's your friend, Lieutenant So and So, or Colonel So and So, and he's just a simple guy in the South Vietnamese army, doesn't really care for his government, but he's doing his best because he knows pretty much what's going to happen to him and the country and the lives of his children if the other side takes over, which is, they'll end up being in Cambodia, which came true. If it were to come down to take an APC and run over Nguyen Van Thieu, or keep these other people out, he'd gladly run of Thieu or anybody else just as you would remove a cancerous tumor. That's what it came down to. You don't have the luxury of debating whether it's right or wrong, or is capital punishment right or wrong. In your own mind you would have done anything. There was never a time during those days when you could sit down and think. There were just things you had to do from day to day. But you never knew exactly how it was going to go down. And then you had these nice little interludes like hauling babies out of helicopters from that C5A. Stuff was happening, it happens to an extent and at a velocity which exceeds, I think, the capacity of the human mind to digest and absorb it. You're walking around in a fucking daze. What else could possibly happen? I must emphasize it's not a matter of "Gee, we've lost politically".To me personally, in the long run my Vietnam came down to very simply, "Why am I here?" And it just seemed that I knew sixty or eighty people fairly well, they're Vietnamese, and that's my Vietnam. I'll save my Vietnam. I had to get those people out. The bond of friendship and your word becomes more important when everything else is trash. Treaties are garbage. Everything else is a lie, and there's a compensatory action, you can say I'm going to make this work. There are some absolutes in the universe, if it's only what I say. And that is exactly what I did. Then I left. I'm not saying I'm a saint, but I came out of there and I brought those people out and others, and if there is a judgment day and let's assume there is a God and he says,"What the hell are you worth?" I'm saying, you saw it in Vietnam, Lord. You ought to know." So for myself, personal redemption, I don't give a shit. This country, or the fates, my universe is turned inside out.It ain't going to judge me. My challenge to this country and the universe is, Are you capable of judging me or anybody else that hauled their freight in Vietnam. This country cannot judge me. They're incapable of it, speaking broadly. Hell, I was instrumental in saving some kids lives over there, and stuff like that, I feel good about that. I was instrumental in helping save an old woman's foot one time. That means a lot to me. These old village people come up to us once out in the field because they knew American medics were there. This woman came up with this foot that was the most disgusting putrid thing I had ever seen. It stunk, it was running, it was pus and goo and ooze. She spilled a cauldron of hot water on her foot and it was enough to make you gag. It wasn't just regular blood. Well we didn't have much medicine at this orphanage. It was tough to come by. So we didn't have the balls to tell her to go to hell. And I was the only one who spoke Vietnamese. I said okay we'll give you a little Bactrian, which is an antiseptic, Vaseline type stuff. Vaseline is not good because it is a culture for bacteria. Bactrian is bactricidal and does kill germs. We put some other shit on there and it was just disgusting. She shuffled off. And then a decision was made, next week when she comes back, if she is still alive, we are just going to tell her "Lady we don't have enough. Kids have long lives. You don't. Go." So sure enough she comes back next week. And the medic looked up at me and said, "Well here it comes".And how do you do that? And I'm just standing there, I didn't know how I could force the words out of my throat."I'm sorry but we don't have enough medicine". And she comes up and I didn't even look at her foot. I was just looking in her face, and she starts saying "Thank you Mr. American doctor." And it didn't register. She kept on saying it. And it dawned on me she wasn't asking for more medicine. I looked at her foot, I'm not saying I believe in miracles, but I've never seen anything as unexpected as that. He foot was obviously on the way to recovery. And I looked at the medic. I do not believe it. And she just thanked us both, turned around and went home. To me that old woman's foot and her taking the time to walk down that dirty old road to come and say thank you, there is nothing that has more meaning to me.

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