Archive for the ‘1958’ Category

In a matter of days, almost spontaneously it seemed, a small group of tradesmen set up shop on the fringe of each unit area. Usually there would be a barber, a shoe shine boy, a family collecting laundry and repairing clothing, and someone collecting films to be processed, selling stationery, etc. These people were polite, friendly, and scrupulously honest. Outside our CP area, the service included a booth where orders for merchandise from a Beirut department store could be ordered using catalogues. As a matter of control, we decided to issue permits to all these entrepreneurs, as we did with all the local people we hired. To discourage proliferation, we decided to charge a fee for these permits, but we could only do this if we had a properly established unit fund, and all unit funds were supposed to have been turned in before we left Germany. As luck would have it, one unit, Troop C, 17th Cavalry, had failed to do so. After we started issuing permits, these tradespeople showed me noticeably more deference.They figured I was now getting my cut, which is an ancient and honorable custom in the Middle East. The money was used to buy various items for the soldiers not available through Army supply channels. Specifically, I recall books on the history of Lebanon for I & E classes, horseshoes for a competition, and a bass fiddle for our hillbilly band.

A US Marine enjoys Lebanon's beaches in 1958.


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