I was a high school senior in 1970. That means that I spent nearly all my teen years in the spectre of the Vietnam War. At that time, the draft lottery was in place and going to Vietnam was not a prospect that most young American men looked forward to, regardless of one’s politics. I must say that at the time, I had nothing against it politically…but I still wasn’t eager to go.
As it turns out, I didn’t have to go. The year of 1970 was my primary eligibility for the draft (I was 18) and my lottery number was 276…and my draft board went up through 270. I therefore never got called my primary year of eligibility, and by the next year (my secondary year of eligibility) my lottery number was very low (13 if I recall correctly), but they would have had to go through all 365 for 1971 before going on to those of us in our secondary year of eligibility. Some of my friends went – some by choice, others because they were drafted. Regardless, I hold them (and all veterans) in the highest regard and respect them tremendously for what they did. In a way, I have always felt guilty that I never went to Vietnam or served my country there.
But, that’s not really the point. You couldn’t watch the news for very many days in a row without hearing of the Mekong River. The Mekong would wind for nearly 2700 miles from the Tibetian Plateau all the way down through Vietnam (it is actually the 14th longest river in the world, the 7th longest in Asia). If I had a dollar for every time I heard about it or saw photos of it from the air, I’d have retired long ago. I meandered through green marshes and farm land with rice and lots of foliage. As American planes and helicopters flew their missions, many photos of it wound up on the news.
When I was walking one morning this week, we were walking along an irrigated field that had an irrigation ditch running along one edge, sweeping gracefully in smooth curves. For some reason, when I saw it, I thought of the Mekong and those pictures from long ago came to my mind. But it came in a rather twisted sort of way (yeah, I know, that’s normal for me, right?) For some reason, I thought “Me Kong, you Fray Wray/Jessica Lange/Naomi Watts.” Sort of like Tarzan when he proclaimed in his stilted English: “Me Trazan, you Jane.”
Strange what our minds do to us, isn’t it?
Behold, the miniature source of my madness. Were it not for the trees in the background and the dirt track running along the left edge, one could almost imagine this shot being taken from a high altitude plane of the Mekong River.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: four-wheeled roller skates were invented by James Plimpton in 1863. What he was doing inventing skates in the middle of the Civil War, I’ll never know.